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Thursday, 6 June 2013
Page: 5707

Mr DREYFUS (IsaacsAttorney-General, Minister for Emergency Management, Minister for the Public Service and Integrity and Special Minister of State) (12:36): I thank honourable members for their contributions to the second reading debate on the Privacy Amendment (Privacy Alerts) Bill 2013. I thank the member for Stirling, the member for Greenway and the member for Hindmarsh for their support. I also note the support that has been expressed for this bill by Microsoft, OzHub, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, Electronic Frontiers Australia and Choice.

This bill is an important step in consumer protection in Australia. It will create a safe and transparent online environment that will help grow Australia's digital economy. In an increasingly digital world, more and more personal information and data is being collected from Australians. The government believes it is time that companies and agencies which hold that personal data were under an obligation to tell consumers when the security of that personal information has been breached. While it is impossible to tell exactly how many breaches are occurring, international studies suggest that there has been an upward trend in the occurrence of data breaches worldwide. Meanwhile, as the member for Greenway observed correctly in her speech, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner received fewer notifications in the 2011-12 year than the year before. In the face of this and other information suggesting underreporting, Australia's current system of voluntary reporting of data breaches by companies and agencies is not working for Australians. It is also clearly unacceptable that a number of recent high-profile data breaches involving Australians' personal information have come to light through the media. This is why this bill is so important.

As a result of these amendments, Australians will be better able to mitigate the risks resulting from data breaches and reduce the risk of identity fraud and cybercrime. In the face of a data breach, Australians must have the knowledge and power to change their passwords, improve their security settings online, cancel credit cards or completely change businesses. Many other places around the world are introducing or considering mandatory data breach laws: New Zealand, the United States, Canada and the European Union. As a world leader in many important areas of reform, Australia cannot afford to be left behind on consumer privacy protections. This bill represents the latest in a number of landmark privacy reforms that this government has delivered on. These achievements will ensure that Australians will continue to have a modern, adaptable and robust privacy framework, one that continues to provide the high standards of privacy protection that we envisaged Australians should have when the Privacy Act was enacted in 1988. I commend the bill to the House.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.

Ordered that this bill be reported to the House without amendment.