Submission: Online Privacy Bill

While we’re in the midst of a (much needed) review of the Privacy Act, the government has introduced a parallel draft Online Privacy Bill, ostensibly to address the privacy challenges posed by social media. The exposure draft requires the creation of an Online Privacy Code, which would be developed in consultation with industry. If you’re thinking―hey, sounds like the tech industry is responsible for coming up with a lot of solutions at the moment―you’d be right!

The main feature of the Online Privacy Bill is a strong focus on children’s privacy. Notably, the bill creates a requirement for social media companies to verify the age of individuals who seek to use their service, to consider ‘best interests of the child’, and to obtain parental or guardian consent for anyone who is under the age of 16.

Now, we agree that children’s privacy is important. But we also think that the best way to protect kids online is to improve privacy protections for everyone. Age verification introduces privacy and security risk, which goes against the very goal of the draft bill.

An overview of our reccomendations
  • Finalize the review of the Privacy Act prior to enacting further privacy legislation.
  • Remove the threshold for compliance based on the size and reach of a digital platform.
  • Prioritize a rights-based approach.
  • Restrict secondary uses and disclosures of personal information which are currently in the Privacy Act.
  • Remove any requirements for age verification systems as they run counter to the intention of the legislation.
  • Strengthen the rules for all entities collecting or handling personal information, including data brokers.

Read our full submission here.