AG announces privacy protection inquiry

Plans have been announced by attorney-general Mark Dreyfus for an inquiry into the protection of privacy in the digital age.

The security audit will not only focus on solutions for privacy breaches, but also ways in which they can be prevented from the outset.

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has been tasked with carrying out the investigation, which Mr Dreyfus believes has become necessary due to "changing conceptions of community privacy and rapid growth in information technology capabilities".

He emphasised that although the government strongly believes in protecting the privacy of individuals, this needs to be balanced with their right to the freedom of expression and communication.

As new technologies come to the fore, the need for privacy protection will become even greater, emphasising the need for changes to be made to legislation and other types of regulation.

Mr Dreyfus explained: "Our privacy laws need to address future challenges and ensure people can take action against a person or organisation that seriously violates their privacy.

"I have asked the Australian Law Reform to ensure that the importance of freedom of expression and other rights and interests are appropriately balanced."

This is not the first time that the government has given consideration to the rising threat to public privacy – a consultation was launched with the ALRC five years ago.

Not only this, it also offered responses to a government discussion paper in 2011, neither of which showed there to be a consensus on how the legal right to sue for breach of privacy should be established.

There is even some discussion over whether or not this legislation should even be created at all.

However, the government has said that it will give the ALRC's latest findings all due consideration before it makes a final decision on the matter.

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