Federal Government Announces Proposals to Amend Privacy Act

On March 24, the federal government announced that it will introduce legislation amending the Privacy Act in the second half of 2019. The amendment proposes increased penalties for Privacy Act breaches to the greater of AUD $10 million, three times the value of any benefit obtained through the misuse of information, or 10 percent of a company's annual domestic turnover, whichever penalty is greater. The legislation also would allow the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner to issue infringement notices and impose monetary penalties, and it would require social media companies to stop using or disclosing personal information if requested.

Senate Economics Legislation Committee Releases Report on New Consumer Data Right Bill

On March 21, the Senate Economics Legislation Committee released its report on the draft bill that would establish the Consumer Data Right ("CDR"), which recommends that the CDR draft bill be passed into law. The Committee noted that the CDR draft bill has general support from interested parties. However, parties providing submissions maintained concerns about the privacy arrangements in the draft bill, including the potential need to comply with both the Privacy Safeguards in the draft bill and the Australian Privacy Principles already in place. The draft bill will next be considered by the House of Representatives, although this consideration has not yet been scheduled. Introduction of the CDR to the banking sector in Australia is still scheduled for July 1, 2019.

Joint Parliamentary Committee Considers Law Providing Access to Communications

The Joint Parliamentary Committee on Intelligence and Security continues its inquiry into the Telecommunications and Other Legislation (Assistance and Access) Act 2018. The Act requires designated communications providers to grant access to communications on their platforms when requested by law enforcement agencies. The Act has come under criticism for weakening the privacy of all encrypted communications. The Committee's review will consider all aspects of the Act and its implementation, including a review of the amendments introduced immediately before the Act's passage on December 6, 2018.

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