Privacy Law Review & NFPs
30 May 2005 at 1:05 pm
A review of the private sector provisions of the Privacy Act has found that, overall, the National Privacy Principles have worked well in protecting the privacy of Australians’ personal information according to the Federal Government.
The Privacy Commissioner’s report, called Getting in on the Act: Review of the Private Sector Provisions of the Privacy Act, received significant input from the Not for Profit Sector from umbrella organisation to individual charities.
The review makes recommendations covering a range of areas touched on by these organisations.
Attorney-General Philip Ruddock says the review was intended to examine Australia’s ground-breaking co-regulatory privacy legislation to ensure that the privacy of individuals is protected without unnecessarily burdening business with red tape.
He says the report indicates the regime is generally working well, but also that the benefit of three years experience of the private sector provisions has shown that there are ways in which the operation of the existing regime could be improved.
The main recommendations of the report include:
· improving national consistency in privacy regulation, particularly in the area of health privacy regulation
· simplifying the application of the small business exemption
· ensuring that privacy is adequately protected in the face of rapidly developing new technologies and
· raising consumer and business awareness of a range of privacy issues.
The Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner undertook extensive consultation with community groups and received written submissions from 128 interested parties.
The Fundraising Institute- Australia (FIA) argued that national consistency is important in ensuring compliance with regulations.
The FIA said its members had advised that consistency in regulation would improve their capacity to undertake their work as fundraisers. Accordingly, FIA believes that any moves towards national consistency are relevant to industry practice and should be encouraged.
One Not for Profit told the Review of its concerns about State privacy laws relating to health information, the Victorian Health Records Act 2001 and the NSW Health Records Information Privacy Act 2002 (HRIPA).
The organisation said that these State Acts have distinct provisions relating to information access and the complaints handling process, with specific provision for payment of damages to injured parties. This arrangement gives potential
complainants/plaintiffs some opportunity to “shop around”, to select the most suitable legislation to further their case or grievance.
The Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) in its submission pointed to the critical importance of direct marketing to RIDBC’s ability to provide educational services to deaf children and blind children, and asked that no additional restrictions be placed on direct marketing as a result of the review.
It also raised concerns about the extent of apparently uncoordinated regulatory interventions into the direct marketing sector by various governments and their agencies over the past few years.
The Federal Government says it will carefully consider the recommendations of the Review.
If you would like an electronic copy of the Review in PDF format just send us an email with the words Privacy Review in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org.