Below is information about the Australian Law Reform Commission's Report 108; For Your Information - Australian Privacy Law and Practice (2008) and the Australian Government's response to that report.
The Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Bill 2012 was introduced to Parliament on 23 May 2012 and was passed with amendments on 29 November 2012. the changes to the Privacy Act will come into force in March 2014. More information about the changes, as passed by the Parliament, is available on our new Privacy law reform page on our www.oaic.gov.au website.
- Attorney-General’s media release on the introduction of the Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Bill 2012.
- House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs inquiry
- Senate Senate Standing Committees on Legal and Constitutional Affairs inquiry
The Australian Government's draft legislative changes, reflecting its response to the ALRC's privacy inquiry were released in relation to the Australian Privacy Principles provisions in June 2010 and the Credit reporting provisions in February 2011.
In August 2010 the Office made a submission to the Senate Committee on the draft Australian Privacy Principles. In March 2011 the Office made a submission to the Senate Committee on the draft credit reporting provisions.
The Senate Committee released reports into the draft Australian Privacy Principles in June 2011 and the draft credit reporting provisions in October 2011, each of which make a number of recommendations. The reports and other information can be found on the Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee’s inquiry webpage.
The Australian Government released the first stage of its response to the ALRC Report 108 on 14 October 2009. The response is available here.
A media release and speech from Cabinet Secretary, Senator the Hon Joe Ludwig, are available here.
A media release from the Office is available here.
The Office has produced some support materials which summarise some of the major aspects of the Government's first stage response:
- synopsis of the main aspects of the Government's response (structure, powers, complaint handling, technology, privacy principles, credit, health and research)
- brief overview of proposals for a new binding credit code, as part of credit reporting reforms
- table outlining the effect of the Government's response in relation to health privacy.
2006-08: The ALRC Privacy Inquiry
The ALRC Final Report, 'For Your Information - Australian Privacy Law and Practice' was released on 11 August 2008
About the ALRC Privacy Inquiry
On 31 January 2006, the ALRC received Terms of Reference from the Australian Attorney-General for an inquiry into the extent to which the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and related laws continue to provide an effective framework for the protection of privacy in Australia.
A final report was provided to the Australian Attorney-General on 30 May 2008 and was made publicly available on 11 August 2008.
Submissions made by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner in relation to the ALRC Inquiry
In February 2007 the Office made a submission to the ALRC Review of Privacy - Issues Paper 31 - "Submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission's Review of Privacy - Issues Paper 31"
In April 2007 the Office made a submission to the ALRC Review of the Privacy - Issues Paper 32 Credit Reporting Provisions.
In December 2007 the Office made a submission to the ALRC Review of Privacy - Discussion Paper 72 - "Submission to the Australian Law Reform Commission's Review of Privacy - Discussion Paper 72"
The Office has released a number of media releases relating to the ALRC Review. See:
- Media Release: ALRC report - a valuable contribution to privacy law reform, says Privacy Commissioner (11/08/08)
- Media Release: Privacy Commissioner calls for mandatory reporting of major data security breaches (30/01/2007)
- Media Release: Privacy Commissioner endorses consistency in privacy law in Australia (21/12/2007)
- Media Release: ALRC Review Paper is an important step, says Privacy Commissioner (12/09/2007)
- Media Release: Privacy Law Reform 'essentials' (31/08/08)
- Media Release: Reduce complexity in credit information regulation, says Privacy Commissioner (20/04/2007)
- Media Release: Merge privacy principles to enhance national consistency, says Privacy Commissioner (08/03/2007)
- Media Release: National consistency needed in health privacy law, says Privacy Commissioner (08/03/2007)
- Media Release: Amend Privacy Act to address security breaches, biometrics and data-matching, says Privacy Commissioner (08/03/2007)
- Media Release: Greater consistency required for telecommunications privacy, says Privacy Commissioner (08/03/2007)
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner called for a wider review of privacy laws in Australia in our March 2005 report "Getting in on the Act: The Review of the Private Sector Provisions of the Privacy Act 1988".
NSW Law Reform Commission privacy inquiry
Further information about the inquiry, including consultation papers and reports, is available here.
New Zealand Law Commission privacy inquiry
Information about the inquiry can be accessed here.
Victorian Law Reform Commission privacy inquiry
British Columbia Law Institute (Canada) review of the Privacy Act of British Columbia
This Act creates a statutory tort of violation of privacy. The Report is available here.
South African Law Reform Commission privacy inquiry
The Report of this inquiry, released in August 2009, is available here.
The Hong Kong Law Reform Commission
A series of reports on aspects of privacy law, the last in 2006 can be accessed here.
As part of its 2007 election commitments, the Australian Government announced it would:
- reform the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) to promote a pro-disclosure culture across the Government and build a stronger foundation for more openness in government including the removal of the conclusive certificates provisions
- create an Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) with three statutory Office holders - an Information Commissioner, an FOI Commissioner and the existing Privacy Commissioner
- incorporate the existing Office of the Privacy Commissioner into the new OIC.
Under the Freedom of Information (Removal of Conclusive certificates and Other Measures) Act 2009, the power to issue conclusive certificates in the FOI Act and the Archives Act 1983 has been repealed. This came into effect on 7 October 2009.
On 24 March 2009, exposure draft legislation on FOI reform generally and the Office of the Information Commissioner was released for comment by 15 May 2009.
The Office’s May 2009 submission to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet on the exposure draft bill is available here.
Following consideration of comments, the Government introduced the Information Commissioner Bill 2009 and the Freedom of Information Amendment (Reform) Bill 2009 into Parliament on 26 November 2009.
The Bills were referred to the Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee for inquiry and report by 16 March 2010.
The Information Commissioner Bill 2009 created a new entity and conferred all of the functions (FOI, information policy and privacy) of the OIC on the Information Commissioner.
On 26 February 2010 the Government announced the appointment of Professor John McMillan AO as the Information Commissioner Designate. Professor McMillan will be responsible for ensuring the Office of the Information Commissioner is fully operational by its commencement date (now confirmed as 1 November 2010).
The Bills were passed on 13 May 2010 with some amendments, including a change of name to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.
More information on the reforms, including links to the new Acts, is available on the Attorney-General's website.
More information is available on the Senate inquiry.