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Privacy reforms will let Australians stop getting targeted ads (and more)

By Will Ellis
Last Updated on March 26, 2023

Mark Dreyfus and prime minister Anthony Albanese have introduced privacy reforms will let Australians stop getting targeted ads (and also delete their personal information). 

Amendments to Australia’s privacy laws would give citizens more control over their personal information and allow them to delete or restrict some types of data collection.

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, might serve as a model for individual rights.

Under a plan now before the Australian government, individuals would have more say over how their data is used, with the option to delete data, sue over significant privacy breaches, and opt out of tailored marketing.

On Thursday, Attorney General Mark Dreyfus will reveal the results of his department’s study of the Privacy Act’s modernization, which recommends, among other things, extending the act’s coverage to small enterprises and adding additional controls for the use of data by political parties.

Although this paper does not represent official government policy, in January, Dreyfus told the Guardian Australia that privacy lawsuits and European-style changes like the “right to be forgotten” will be on the table for the next round of legislation.

Changes come after Optus breach

After high-profile data breaches at telecommunications firm Optus and healthcare provider Medibank, the government of Albanese approved a law in 2022 strengthening penalties for corporations who fail to secure client data.

A summary part of the assessment obtained in advance by Guardian Australia argued for the elimination of the exemption from the Privacy Act for small enterprises, citing public trust in the confidentiality of personal data given to small firms.

It also recommended an “impact study” and help for small enterprises to guarantee they can meet their responsibilities.

Report shows more user permission is needed before data is collected

According to the findings, getting people’s permission before collecting and using accurate geolocation tracking data is a need.

The government should hold hearings on creating a crime for the intentional identification of de-identified data for the purpose of harming another person or gaining an improper profit.

You should know that newsletters may include advertisements, sponsored material, and information about charitable organisations. Google’s TOS Service and Privacy Policy apply since they employ reCaptcha to keep bad guys away from the site.

The study, echoing a 2014 suggestion by the Australian Law Reform Commission, argued for the establishment of a right to sue for major intrusions of privacy (Tools to Protect Yourself Online).

On Wednesday Dreyfus stated large-scale data breaches of 2022 were disturbing for millions of Aussies, with sensitive personal data being breached to the danger of identity theft and frauds.

The publishing of this report marks the beginning of the process of fulfilling the legitimate expectations of the Australian people for enhanced openness, safeguards, and control of their own personal data.

Australian/GDPR laws merging to increase the ability to delete data on social apps

In January, managing director Sunita Bose, of Digital Industry Group, said the organisation supported harmonising Australian law with the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which has many robust elements, which includes consumer rights around erasing data. Members of Digital Industry Group include Apple, Google, Twitter, Meta, and TikTok.

The media may find the ability to sue over a breach of privacy problematic, since they worry that the affluent and powerful would use it as another legal tool to limit press freedom. At previous discussions, the Australia’s Business Council made their opposition to the law change clear.

According to Jones, improvements are being considered to make data transfers to and from Australia easier. In 2001, European authorities raised objections to Australia’s privacy legislation, and the Australian government at the time said it wouldn’t amend the law. This stalled the EU’s ‘adequacy’ review of Australia.

Next steps in 2023-2024 

Since the report is available publicly, the Attorney General’s Office has launched a comment period, complete with a 42-question survey for comments. Through March 31st, comments may be sent.

The department is looking for feedback to make sure the changes the Australian government enacts are fair and effective, since the report highlights complex policy concerns that impact people and public and private enterprises.

Johnston claims that Attorney General Mark Dreyfus has promised to introduce a measure to parliament before the end of the current governing term. This might take place as early as 2023 or 2024.

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