Submission: Privacy Act Review – Discussion Paper

The long-awaited review of the Privacy Act is progressing!

Digital Rights Watch has been actively following the development of privacy legislation in Australia, and participating in the consultation process to reform this important law to bring it into the 21st century.

We made an initial submission on the Issues Paper in November 2020, which you can find here.

This submission is in response to the Privacy Act Review Discussion Paper, which considered a broad range of potential changes to the Privacy Act. We have made 27 recommendations to the Attorney-General, with a focus on upholding human rights in the digital age.

We believe that recognising the right to privacy at the federal level is critical to protecting the privacy of all Australians. Enshrining a right to privacy within the Privacy Act would create a rights-based relationship with the way Australians’ data and privacy is treated online, as opposed to an economic or value-driven model which has been the case so far. While other amendments to the Privacy Act will play a key role in improving the protections against arbitrary infringements upon Australians’ privacy, without a right to privacy the impact of the reforms made to the Privacy Act will remain limited. DRW is of the view that Australia needs a comprehensive federal charter of human rights, but until this is realised, introducing a right to privacy in the Privacy Act is essential.

Similarly, a statutory tort would be a welcome improvement, although it is only a partial substitute for implementing the right to privacy as a stand-alone right, without the need to meet the requirements of the tort. It is our view that in order for privacy protections to be meaningful in Australia, there is need for all three of these changes: a federal right to privacy, reform to the Privacy Act, and a statutory tort for serious invasions of privacy. 

Read our full submission here.