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Federal Privacy Commissioner, Malcolm Crompton comments on private sector privacy\nlegislation.

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Media Release 12/4/2000

Federal Privacy Commissioner, Malcolm Crompton comments on private sector privacy legislation Privacy is a fundamental human right that needs to be respected in a modern democracy. It is for this reason that I welcome the Government's move to extend privacy legislation to the private sector.

It is timely that the Government has introduced legislation into parliament for debate, particularly given the rapid growth in new technologies. Privacy law is needed to ensure all consumers can confidently take maximum advantage of the information economy while allowing them to protect their privacy with minimum inconvenience.

Given the pressures technology is placing on individual privacy, I believe that the new scheme should have very broad coverage. However, individual privacy rights must always be balanced with the needs of organisations to conduct their legitimate activities.

I urge all Australians to contribute to the debate over the legislation, including the proposed exemptions, so that we achieve a balance that works for all of us. In particular the exemption for political organisations needs to be considered very carefully.

As Federal Privacy Commissioner I do not think that the proposed exemption for political organisations is appropriate. If we are to have a community that fully respects the principles of privacy and the political institutions that support them, then these institutions themselves must adopt the principles and practices they seek to require of others. I believe that political organisations should follow the same practices and principles that are required in the wider community.

To ensure that the appropriate balance is achieved, I also strongly urge the parliament to consider carefully this legislation and in particular the wider implications of the exemptions-otherwise we may risk losing that important balance.

I welcome the announcement by the Attorney-General that the legislation will be reviewed after it has been in force for 2 years. This is important given the speed with which technology is changing the way our personal information can be collected and collated. Whatever decision the Parliament makes only experience will tell us whether the law is effective.

The outcome of the privacy debate is important for the Australian community

and I look forward to working with Parliament to achieve a balance in the legislation that reflects Australian attitudes towards privacy.

Click here for a copy of the Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Bill 2000.

Click here to go to information papers , on the Attorney-General's website, about the new Bill.

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