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Monday, 10 September 2018
Page: 8311

Data Collection

Dear Mrs Wicks

Thank you for your letter of 21 May 2018 regarding Petition EN0548, which requests amending the Australian Privacy Principles to introduce a 'right for erasure' of personal information.

In Australia, the collection, use. storage, access and disclosure of personal information by Australian Government agencies and certain private sector organisations is governed by the Privacy Act 1988 (the Privacy Act). It contains a set of 13 binding Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) that deal with the collection, use, disclosure and handling of personal information. The APPs require that organisations to which they apply take reasonable steps to destroy information that is no longer necessary for the purpose it was collected (APP 11.2). In addition, individuals have the right to access their personal information (APP 12.1) and have it corrected (APP 13.1). These measures are intended to strike an appropriate balance between providing individuals with control over their personal information without imposing unreasonable burdens on entities subject to the Privacy Act.

I note that the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) considered in its 2014 report Serious Invasions of Privacy in the Digital Era whether a new APP should be introduced allowing individuals to request destruction or de-identification of personal information. The ALRC did not recommend introducing such an APP.

The Australian Government is also aware of the implementation of the European Union's (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as a new data protection framework to harmonise EU data protection laws and replace existing national data protection rules. Article 17 of the GDPR includes a 'right to erasure' (subject to some exceptions).

The Australian Government does not plan to introduce a right of erasure under the Privacy Act at this time. However, the Australian Government is absolutely committed to protecting Australians' privacy, and continues to monitor the Privacy Act to ensure that it remains appropriate and fit for purpose.

Thank you again for bringing this petition to my attention. I trust this information is of assistance.

Yours sincerely

from the Attorney-General, Mr Porter