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Amendments to the Privacy Act

Contract Law News | February 2014

Amendments to the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (Act) mean that businesses should review their privacy policies and procedures to ensure that they comply with the new Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) introduced by the Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012 (Cth) (Amending Act).

The key amendments to the Act

1. Changes to the APPs

The APPs will impose stricter regulations regarding the handling of personal information by businesses and government agencies. The APPs will replace the former Information Privacy Principles (that relate to government agencies) and National Privacy Principles (that relate to businesses).

There are 13 new APPs. The primary focus of the APPs is the handling, collection and retention of personal information by APP entities (discussed later in this article).

2. New credit reporting regime

The Amending Act introduces Part IIIA into the Act, which allows for more comprehensive credit reporting.  Under this new Part, credit reporting bodies will be permitted to hold new types of personal information (relating to credit) about individuals. This allows an individual’s personal credit information to be more easily collected and stored to gain a better understanding of their credit commitments and activities over a 2-year period. To ensure individuals’ personal credit information is adequately protected, Part IIIA also contains enhanced privacy protections in relation to notification, data quality, access and correction, and complaints.

3. New powers of the Australian Information Commissioner

The Australian Information Commissioner (Commissioner) will now possess greater enforcement powers to resolve complaints, conduct investigations and assessments, and promote compliance with the APPs.

APP “Entities”

APP entities must adhere to the requirements of the new APPs and amendments to the Act after 12 March 2014. An “APP entity” is either an agency or an organisation. Under the Act, an “agency” is any government or government related entity, whilst an “organisation” is:

  • an individual;
  • a body corporate;
  • a partnership;
  • a trust;
  • a not-for-profit or charitable entity; or
  • any other unincorporated association.

If you are an APP entity, it is important that you understand the impact of the amendments to the Act prior to them coming into effect. APP entities should review their privacy policies, procedures and systems now to ensure they are compliant with the new laws.

For additional information relating to the APPs and credit reporting amendments please see these links:

If you require further information about the amendments, or if you would like assistance with your privacy review, please contact Forum Law, solicitors. As business, commercial and property lawyers in Leichhardt and one of the most prominent business lawyers in the greater inner west of Sydney, we can advise and assist you with your business documentation as well as conveyancing and wills.

Forum Law is an active member of several reputable law and industry associations. We have recently obtained ISO9001 accreditation.