Privacy bill is 'riddled with holes'

Released this week by the Federal Attorney-General, Darryl Williams, the Privacy Amendment Bill allows personal information to be used for direct marketing purposes, on the proviso that "the individual is given the opportunity to opt out of receiving any further marketing".

The executive director of IT industry group Electronic Frontiers Australia, Peter Upton, criticised this condition as an "opt-out" approach, because spammers and bulk emailers were effectively entitled by law to electronically harass individuals until asked to stop. Upton complained that an "opt-in" approach, whereby individuals actively directed how their personal information was to be used in advance, had been overlooked.

Upton agreed with the Bill's concession that it is difficult for companies to obtain permission from each individual before using their data for direct marketing purposes, but did not accept this as an adequate excuse to send unsolicited email. "It's a weak bill," he concluded.

Similarly, the chairman of the Australian Privacy Foundation, Tim Dixon, decried the bill as "riddled with holes". He complained that the small business exemption contained in the bill pertained to almost three-quarters of Australian businesses. Under the legislation, any company with a website could send unsolicited email to individuals because they would qualify as media organisations, which were exempt from the legislation, he said.

The bill did not comply with the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) privacy principle of 1980, which Dixon said states that all individuals have the "right to know when information's being collected on them".

The OECD is a France-headquartered international social and economic policy review committee; Australia is one of 29 represented countries.

Dixon said that New Zealand, Hong Kong, Canada and most European countries complied with the OECD's privacy principle, but Australia did not.

According to the bill, large corporations with numerous operational divisions were allowed to freely distribute an individual's personal information between company divisions without that individual's consent. Dixon expects the bill will do little to "bolster consumer confidence" and will consequently "harm online businesses".

Charles Britton, the Australian Consumers' Association policy officer for IT and communications, said it was unclear in the bill how organisations were allowed to use individuals' personal information. He suggested that organisations could, in compliance with the bill, discriminate against and choose to not contact individuals by using their personal data.

Meanwhile, the Internet Industry Association issued a statement that "welcomed" the flexibility of bill.

The Attorney-General's office was unavailable for comment.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Byron Kaye

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?