Given the current privacy reform and cyber threat environment, the question we get asked a lot is – what are the privacy risks that should be assessed in our organisation and how do we prioritise these? Unfortunately this isn’t always a ‘one size fits all’ answer but there are some basic matters you can check as to whether your organisation is considering privacy risks proactively.Read More
The APPs require organisations to “take reasonable steps to implement practices, procedures and systems that ensure compliance with the APPs”. Putting your mind to privacy after a data breach or complaint is very much shutting the stable door after Phar Lap has bolted (good luck getting him back!)
Good privacy management starts with a good privacy culture in your organisation. Recommended steps to develop this include:Read More
The theme of this year’s Privacy Awareness Week (PAW) is “back to basics”. It’s fitting to consider some lessons arising from recent high-profile breaches affecting millions of Australians, and the consistent messages we’ve been hearing from the Australian Information Commissioner in the midst of those incidents.
Data breaches can happen to anyone. We know cyberattacks can be big business, and sophisticated criminal networks make a good living from these. And if your organisation has taken reasonable steps to avoid or mitigate such breaches, the fact you’ve encountered one will not, of itself, be held against you.Read More
We saw last year how low hackers are willing to stoop to shame companies into paying ransoms, including leaking sensitive information aimed at embarrassing individuals affected by data breaches. As a result we also saw prominent calls for ransom payments to be ‘banned’, to reduce the financial incentives for hackers to target Australians’ personal information.
We are now hearing the flipside to that argument, with AGL Energy warning that a government-imposed ban on companies paying cyber ransoms to hackers could cause “catastrophic damage”.Read More
Currently, most small businesses (with some exceptions) are not covered by the Privacy Act – with the threshold shaping a small business being an annual turnover of $3 million or less. However the Attorney General’s Department recognises that Australians want their privacy protected and that small businesses shouldn’t be excepted from this.
In the long term, proposal 6.1 seeks to remove the small business exemption but only after:
- an impact analysis has been undertaken
- appropriate support is developed
- in consultation with small businesses, the most appropriate way for small business to meet their obligations is determined (propionate to the risk) – e.g. through a code, and
- small businesses are in a position to comply with these obligations.
Proposal 6.2, in the shorter term, seeks to ensure that small businesses comply with the Privacy Act in relation to the collection of biometric information and remove the exemption from the Privacy Act for small businesses that obtain consent to trade in personal information (trading in personal information will mean the Privacy Act applies).Read More
The section of the Report dealing with the employee records exemption highlighted significant debate and difference of opinion. Employers expressed a strong desire to retain or even strengthen the exemption; employee representatives consider reform is needed.
In that context the Report does not conclude how the changes should take effect, but proposals 7.1(a)-7.1(d) recommend stronger protection of private sector employee information, to:
- enhance transparency over what employee information is collected and why
- ensure employers have adequate flexibility to deal with employees’ information to administer the employment relationship (and addressing whether consent should be required to collect sensitive information)
- ensure adequate security and destruction measures around employee personal information, and
- notify employees and the OAIC of data breaches involving employee personal information.
What does this mean for my organisation?
Private sector employers who don’t yet have a good grasp of the breadth of information they collect and hold about their employees will need to stocktake their collection activities and sharpen their focus on why they collect such information; prepare appropriate collection notices and employee privacy policies (if not used already); and ensure employee information is appropriately covered in their security measures and considered in their data breach response plans.Read More
Under proposals 4.1-4.4 of the Report, changes to broaden the definition of Personal Information are on the horizon. Under the proposed amendments, the word “about” in the definition of Personal Information will be amended to “relates to”. That is – “information or an opinion that relates to an identified individual…”. This brings the definition in line with other legislative frameworks that regulate privacy and ensures consistency with the language used in the GDPR definition of ‘Personal Data’.
Amendment of the definition of ‘collection’ is also proposed to expressly cover information obtained by any means, including inferred or generated information. The Report also states that ‘reasonably identifiable’ should be supported by a non-exhaustive list of circumstances to which APP entities will be expected to have regard to in their assessment of what is ‘Personal Information’.
What does this mean for my organisation?
With such a broader interpretation, APP entities will need to have regard to a larger set of information that could fall within the definition. This will see information such as mobile location data, IP addresses, social media handles, mobile advertising IDs and other technical information more clearly fall within the definition.Read More