Australian Privacy Commissioner won’t be taking 'softly, softly approach' with privacy reforms

Timothy Pilgrim will be able to seek civil penalties of up to $1.7 million for companies if there is a serious breach of privacy

Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim has warned enterprises and government agencies that he won’t be taking a “softly, softly approach” to privacy investigations when his new powers come into effect on 12 March 2014.

Under the <i>Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Bill 2012</i> which was passed by Parliament in November 2012, Pilgrim will be able to seek civil penalties of up to $340,000 for individuals or up to $1.7 million for companies in the case of a serious breach of privacy.

Speaking at the iaapANZ Privacy Summit in Sydney this week, Pilgrim said he had been asked by people if he will take a cautious approach after implementation of the privacy reforms.

“I have never been known to be subtle so the answer to that question is probably no,” Pilgrim said.

“Before people get too excited about the bluntness of that response, remember that I said I would always start by trying to resolve matters through conciliation. But please do not interpret conciliation to mean softly, softly.”

He added that audits of Australian government agencies, tax file number recipients, credit reporting agencies and credit providers will be extended to include private sector companies.

These audits will determine if companies are handling personal information in accordance with the new Australian Privacy Principles (APPs).

“There has been a power in the current [Privacy] Act to allow me to audit a private sector organisation by invitation. However, it seems organisations have been too shy to extend such an invitation up to now,” Pilgrim said. “So from 12 March I’ll be able to invite myself in.”

He warned that these assessments may be conducted at “any time”, whether the organisation has had a previous privacy breach or not.

“Central to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s (OAIC) enforcement activity is an enforcement pyramid approach to regulation,” Pilgrim said.

For example, in the case of individual complaints the OAIC would expect that a person would try to resolve the issue with the organisation first.

“If a matter is accepted by us, we will always attempt to resolve issues through mutual agreement, conciliation,” he said.

“However, in the event that this is not effective, we will not hesitate in using our other tools to resolve a matter, including determinations, enforceable undertakings or in the case of serious or repeated breaches, civil penalties.”

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

More Videos

looking for the best quality of SMM Panel ( Social Media Marketing Panel ) is a website where People Buy Social Media Services Such as Fa...

Kavin kyzal

How to manage social media during Covid-19

Read more

Thank you for sharing your knowledge. Definitely bookmarked for future reading! Check this website https://a2designlab.com/ with lots of ...

Pierce Fabreverg

Study: Gen Z are huge opportunity for brands

Read more

Thanks for sharing. You might want to check this website https://lagimcardgame.com/. An up and coming strategic card game wherein the cha...

Pierce Fabreverg

Board games distributor partners with Deliveroo in business strategy pivot

Read more

Such an important campaign, dyslexia certainly need more awareness. Amazing to see the work Code Read is doing. On the same note we are a...

Hugo

New campaign aims to build understanding around scope and impact of dyslexia

Read more

Great Job on this article! It demonstrates how much creativity, strategy and effort actually goes to produce such unique logo and brandin...

Pierce Fabreverg

Does your brand need a personality review? - Brand vision - CMO Australia

Read more

Blog Posts

A few behavioural economics lesson to get your brand on top of the travel list

Understanding the core principles of Behavioural Economics will give players in the travel industry a major competitive advantage when restrictions lift and travellers begin to book again. And there are a few insights in here for the rest of the marketing community, too.

Dan Monheit

Co-founder, Hardhat

Predicting the Future: Marketing science or marketing myth?

Unicorns, the Sunken City of Atlantis, Zeus: They are very famous. So famous in fact, that we often think twice about whether they are real or not. Sometimes if we talk about something widely enough, and for long enough, even the strangest fiction can seem like fact. But ultimately it is still fiction - stories we make up and tell ourselves over and over until we believe.

Kathy Benson

Chief client officer, Ipsos

Winning means losing in the game of customer retention

At a time of uncertainty and economic hardship, customer retention takes on much greater importance. CX Lavender’s Linda O’Grady examines the big grey area between ‘all’ and ‘best’ customers when deciding who is worth fighting for and how.

Linda O'Grady

Data Strategy Partner & Business Partner, CX Lavender

Sign in