Privacy Awareness Week (PAW) ran between 15 and 19 May and is intended to promote awareness of privacy issues and the importance of protecting personal information. This year’s theme for PAW is “Trust and Transparency”, promoting the importance of organisations handling personal information with care.
PAW is an initiative of the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities, of which the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) is a member.
In Australia, the Privacy Act 1988 regulates how personal information is handled. The Act contains the Australian Privacy Principles, which outline how APP entities, including businesses and government agencies, must handle, use and manage personal information.
Privacy is a hot topic in Australia, thanks to several recent high-profile cases. This includes journalist Ben Grubb’s case in which he unsuccessfully argued that metadata constituted personal information.
Moreover, there is heightened interest in privacy following the announcement that a new privacy reform will come into effect next year. The mandatory data reporting obligation will require APP entities to report breaches involving people’s personal information to both the OAIC and the individuals affected.
This mandatory reporting obligation aims to empower individuals whose personal information has been disclosed due to data breach to take appropriate measures to prevent or reduce financial loss or identity theft.
Privacy concerns have also reared their head because of recent international breaches, such as the WannaCry ransomware attack. The attack affected a wide range of operations, including the UK’s National Health Service, which resulted in the cancellation of medical operations after patients’ records became unavailable.
The OAIC has released a survey about privacy called “Australian Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey (Privacy Survey) Report”. The OAIC has found that 69% of the community feels that the biggest risk for privacy revolves around online services.
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