Category: Legal & Regulatory Risk

1
Privacy in the time of COVID-19
2
You’ve got mail…and lots of it according to the latest OAIC report!
3
You’ve Got (Junk) Mail: Optus Slammed with $504k Fine For Spam Law Breach
4
Post-Brexit data protection – where are we now?
5
California’s answer to the GDPR – the California Consumer Privacy Act kicks in on 1 Jan 2020
6
Double-Edged Sword: Cambridge Analytica Whistle-Blower exposes the dual nature of Technology
7
AI (Adverse Inferences): AI Lending Models may show unconscious bias, according to Report.
8
You can be anonymised, but you can’t hide
9
The OAIC engages in more in-depth investigations and stronger exercise of its power
10
Canada proposes to increase penalties for tech giants in its Digital Charter

Privacy in the time of COVID-19

By Cameron Abbott, Rob Pulham, Michelle Aggromito and Rebecca Gill

Nothing can stop us from talking about privacy, including a pandemic! Yesterday, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) issued guidance on the collection, use and disclosure of personal information during the COVID-19 pandemic (Guidance). 

It mainly serves as a reminder to organisations that even in these pressing times, they must comply with the Australian privacy regime. However, it also highlights what organisations can collect and do with personal information for the purposes of preventing and managing the spread of COVID-19.

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You’ve got mail…and lots of it according to the latest OAIC report!

By Cameron Abbott and Michelle Aggromito

With email being one of the most common forms of communication, it’s not surprising that inboxes these days accumulate thousands of emails that, perhaps, aren’t always electronically filed or deleted (not ours of course).

As the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has indicated in its most recent report on notifications received under the Notifiable Data Breach (NBD) scheme, email accounts are frequently being used for storage, and this raises inherent risk. Yes it’s convenient, but using email to send personal information, such as copies of passports, bank account details and credit card information, can very quickly lose its appeal. If the email account is accessed by a malicious actor through a phishing attack or a rogue employee, the end result can be exploitation of that information for criminal gain.

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You’ve Got (Junk) Mail: Optus Slammed with $504k Fine For Spam Law Breach

By Cameron Abbott, Max Evans and Florence Fermanis

Optus has been fined $504,000 by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for breaching spam laws, according to articles by the ABC and the SMH. The fine is the second largest in ACMA’s history to be awarded, being just $6,000 shy of the $510,000 fine which was slapped on Telstra in 2014 for missing service standards for urban landline connections.

Despite customers notifying Optus of their wish to opt-out or unsubscribe from such messages, an ACMA investigation found that customers still received the relevant messages, resulting in more than 2 million breaches to the Spam Act 2003 (Cth). Rather than a ‘one-off’ issue, it was found that Optus had systemic deficiencies with their compliance procedures and governance.

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Post-Brexit data protection – where are we now?

By Cameron Abbott and Michelle Aggromito

After years of political squabble and delays, Brexit day finally arrived on 31 January 2020. But what does it mean when we talk about the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and how will data protection regulation and compliance change?

There will be little change during the transition (also known as “implementation”) period that is expected to end on 31 December 2020. During this period, EU law will continue to apply in the UK, including the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), after which the GDPR will be converted into UK law.

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California’s answer to the GDPR – the California Consumer Privacy Act kicks in on 1 Jan 2020

By Cameron Abbott ,Tan Xin Ya and John ReVeal

In just a short few weeks, a monumental change of privacy regulations will kick in for US businesses. On 1 January 2020, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) will come into effect, with a compliance deadline at the end of January 2020, and signifies a shift in tone in the privacy sphere for the US – with a move closer to global privacy norms, and away from the perspective that personal data is a company asset.

A series of data disasters such as Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal and the massive Equifax breach left many Americans feeling powerless. Regulators stepped in after the fact to punish the companies, but at the time, there was little that U.S. consumers could do to prevent data breaches. Under the CCPA, Americans (well, Californians, mostly) move a step closer to general privacy protection. However, the Act only targets larger companies or those with prolific data use so there is still a long way to go to being general protection.

In October, the California Governor signed five bills to amend CCPA to provide some regulatory relief for businesses when the CCPA comes into effect. For a detailed analysis on the amendments, we refer you to Volume 2 of our colleagues’ Volume 2 of The Privacists available at the K&L Gates Hub.

Double-Edged Sword: Cambridge Analytica Whistle-Blower exposes the dual nature of Technology

By Cameron Abbott, Max Evans and James Gray

In his cautionary tale, 1984, author George Orwell spoke of a paradigm where the unregulated use of powerful technology, referred to as “telescreens”, manifested a society beholden to the ethics of the controller. This paradigm is perhaps more real than ever, according to an article by Reuters

By exploring the views of Cambridge Analytica whistle-blower Christopher Wylie, the article advises that the deep, multifaceted involvement of big tech companies in consumers’ lives, the ultimate dependence that arises from such involvement and the overwhelming vulnerability of such consumers renders tech companies “too big to fail”. Wylie argues that the vast imbalance of power and information in favour of these companies over users is resulting in a constant scrambling by regulators to control the rapid adoption of such technology forms.

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AI (Adverse Inferences): AI Lending Models may show unconscious bias, according to Report.

By Cameron Abbott and Max Evans

We live in an era where the adoption and use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is at the forefront of business advancement and social progression. Facial recognition technology software is used or is being piloted to be used across a variety of government sectors, whilst voice recognition assistants are becoming the norm both in personal and business contexts. However, as we have blogged previously on, the AI ‘bandwagon’ inherently comes with legitimate concerns.

This is no different in the banking world. The use of AI-based phishing detection applications has strengthened cybersecurity safeguards for financial institutions, whilst the use of “Robo-Advisers” and voice and language processors has facilitated efficiency by increasing the pace of transactions and reducing service times. However, this appears to sound too good to be true, as according to a Report by CIO Drive, algorithmic lending models may show an unconscious bias.

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You can be anonymised, but you can’t hide

By Cameron Abbott, Michelle Aggromito and Karla Hodgson

If you think there is safety in numbers when it comes to the privacy of your personal information, think again. A recent study in Nature Communications found that, given a large enough dataset, anonymised personal information is only an algorithm away from being re-identified.

Anonymised data refers to data that has been stripped of any identifiable information, such as a name or email address. Under many privacy laws, anonymising data allows organisations and public bodies to use and share information without infringing an individual’s privacy, or having to obtain necessary authorisations or consents to do so.

But what happens when that anonymised data is combined with other data sets?

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The OAIC engages in more in-depth investigations and stronger exercise of its power

By Cameron Abbott, Rob Pulham and Jacqueline Patishman

Following two key data incidents concerning how the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) handled data, the OAIC has successfully taken court action binding the banking heavyweight to “substantially improve its privacy practices”.

As a quick summary of the incidents, the first incident involved the loss of magnetic storage tapes (which are used to print account statements). These contained historical customer data including customer statements of up to 20 million bank customers. In 2016, the CBA was unable to confirm that the two magnetic tapes were securely disposed of after the scheduled destruction by a supplier.

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Canada proposes to increase penalties for tech giants in its Digital Charter

By Cameron Abbott and Rebecca Gill

The Canadian federal government has proposed to introduce a combination of fines for companies that violate privacy laws, in order to rein in the growing power of Silicon Valley tech giants.

Canada’s Innovation Minister recently announced a 10-point Digital Charter that aims to provide more transparency into how companies collect and use personal information and stronger rights for consumers to consent to the use of their data. Key principles of the Charter include giving Canadians control over their data, promoting ethical use of data, ensuring that the online marketplace is competitive to facilitate growth of Canadian businesses, and implementing “meaningful penalties” for violations of privacy laws.

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