The cyber attack, reported by Channel Nine as a variation of a ransomware attack, struck early Sunday morning, resulting in television and digital production systems being offline for more than 24 hours. The attack impaired Channel Nine’s ability to broadcast from its Sydney studios, forcing the media outlet to shift operations to its Melbourne studios.Read More
As a result of a recent class action, the Department of Home Affairs has been ordered by the Australian Information Commissioner, Angelene Falk, to pay compensation to asylum seekers after the Department was found to have interfered with the privacy of 9,251 detainees.
According to a media release from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) , the relevant breach stemmed from February 2014, where the Department published on its website a “Detention Report”, which had embedded within it a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet containing the personal information (including full names, date of birth and period of immigration detention) of 9,258 individuals who were in immigration detention at that time.Read More
On 1 December 2020, the New Zealand Privacy Act 2020 will come into operation and repeal and replace the Privacy Act 1993.
The Privacy Act 2020 modernises New Zealand’s privacy laws and seeks to keep pace with international standards and technology. While New Zealand’s new privacy legislation is not as onerous as other international privacy laws, such as the GDPR, it still introduces significant changes including:
- mandatory data breach notification;
- new investigative and regulatory powers for the New Zealand Privacy Commissioner; and
- new criminal offences and penalties, including fines of up to $10,000.
In December 2019, the Australian Government announced it would conduct a review of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).
A year has almost passed and finally the Australian Government has publicly released details about the review. On 30 October 2020, the Australian Government released the Terms of Reference of the review. In particular, the review will cover:
- The scope and application of the Privacy Act
- Whether the Privacy Act effectively protects personal information and provides a practical and proportionate framework for promoting good privacy practices
- Whether individuals should have direct rights of action to enforce privacy obligations under the Privacy Act
- Whether a statutory tort for serious invasions of privacy should be introduced into Australian law
- The impact of the notifiable data breach scheme and its effectiveness in meeting its objectives
- The effectiveness of enforcement powers and mechanisms under the Privacy Act and how they interact with other Commonwealth regulatory frameworks
- The desirability and feasibility of an independent certification scheme to monitor and demonstrate compliance with Australian privacy laws.
A number of legal professionals, with significant experience in the field of privacy law, have signed an open letter to encourage individuals to download the Commonwealth Government’s COVIDSafe App.
Among the privacy lawyers are members of K&L Gates own Australian privacy team (and the authors of this blog post) Cameron Abbott, Rob Pulham, Warwick Andersen, Michelle Aggromito and Allison Wallace.
The open letter is signed by members in their personal capacity, and signals that people who care about privacy a lot can still think that supporting the health and economic objectives of the App is more important at this time.
As at the date of this post, more than 5 million people have downloaded the App, with more needed to reach the Commonwealth Government’s target of 40% of the Australian population.
Following on from the consultation opened by the NSW Government in July 2019 (the subject of a previous blog), NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman has committed to introducing a mandatory data breach scheme, according to an article by ITNews.
At present, neither NSW privacy laws nor the notifiable data breach scheme under Part IIIC of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) require public sector agencies in NSW to notify the NSW Privacy Commissioner and affected individuals where a data breach creates a risk of serious harm. This led to a consultation conducted by the Department of Communities and Justice in late 2019, which revealed “overwhelming public support” for the introduction of a mandatory data breach scheme in NSW, with the NSW Government “sharing a view” that the relevant scheme should be introduced.Read More
Privacy lawyers have been waiting for this day for years (some of us decades). Privacy is on the front page of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age, despite there being no actual data breach. According to the article, Alinta Energy, one of the Australia’s biggest energy companies, is putting the privacy of its over 1.1 million retail gas and electricity customers at risk through poor privacy protections and a lack of proper oversight.
While this is an interesting piece of investigative journalism, what is really interesting is that privacy is now newsworthy even in the absence of a data breach. It has been a long time coming but it seems society now rates privacy as front page news. As our lawyers have already been pointing out in giving presentations this year – privacy has finally hit the big time!
We have blogged numerous times on the notifiable data breach scheme provided for in Part IIIC of Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) including more recently in relation to its success in assisting the preparedness of the health sector to report and respond to data breaches.
Whilst the NSW Information Privacy Commissioner recommends that public sector agencies notify it and affected individuals where a data breach creates a risk of serious harm, neither NSW privacy laws nor the notifiable data breach scheme require public sector agencies in NSW to provide such notification. There are many reasons for state government agencies to mandatorily report data breaches. Informing citizens when privacy breaches occur provides an opportunity for individual protection against potentially adverse consequences, whilst mandatory data breach reporting would address the current under-reporting of data breaches in NSW, which according to the consultation may be the norm.Read More
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?Read More
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.Read More