Australian Privacy Law reforms: Are you prepared?

Advertising associations warn marketers to get up to speed with new Australian Privacy Law reforms or risk fines of up to $1.7m

Australia’s advertising associations are warning marketers to ensure they are prepared to deal with new privacy laws, which come into effect in Australia from March next year.

Changes to privacy law will have a distinct impact on direct marketing, handling and disclosure of information and will include new civil penalties and enforceable undertakings in the event of any breach.

The privacy reform act passed through Australian Parliament in November 2012 after six years of consultation and development. The changes include a single set of standards called the Australian Privacy Principles that specify when information can be used for direct marketing or be sent overseas. Penalties for failing to meet the new privacy laws could cost companies up to $1.7m.

According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) director of regulatory affairs, Samantha Yorke, everyone involved in advertising and marketing should be taking steps to review their online practices and data collection processes well before the new laws come into play on 12 March 2014.

“This year is a significant one for privacy and many businesses will find that they have some work to do to ensure they are fully compliant before March next year,” she said.

IAB has put together a reference tool, explanation of the new Australian Privacy principles, infographics and explanatory videos on the IAB website.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner also issued a new Guide to information securityon 29 April to help organisations better understand what steps to take to ensure personal information is secure.

The new documentation was launched as Privacy Awareness Week kicked off in Asia-Pacific with an event in Sydney. The initiative was founded by the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities, which includes the OAIC.

Privacy commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, said organisations that mishandle personal information risk loss of trust and considerable harm to their company’s reputation.

“Taking privacy by design will be the best insurance your organisation will have against data breaches,” Pilgrim said during a briefing in Sydney.

The Association for Data-Driven Marketing (ADMA) is also emphasising the need for marketers to get up to speed on privacy and is running a series of roadshows and webinars, in conjunction with Corrs Chambers Westgarth lawyers, to educate members on being vigilant and prepared.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia or take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia.

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