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Howard must act on personal financial data security.



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON KIM C BEAZLEY MP

HOWARD MUST ACT ON PERSONAL FINANCIAL DATA SECURITY 10 October 2006

Press reports today about Australian banks’ call centres in India reinforce my call for John Howard to provide more protection for Australian families’ personal financial data.

Last week, I called on John Howard to ensure the families of Middle Australia have the right to know when their personal details are sent offshore.

With so many Australian companies setting up call centres and data processing operations in India and other countries, the Howard Government can no longer hide from the fact Australian families’ private data is now at risk.

In Question Time today, the Prime Minister showed he is completely out of touch with this growing issue. John Howard simply does not understand how important privacy is in the day-to-day lives of people in Middle Australia.

I’m deeply concerned at reports Australian families’ confidential information is being sold on the streets. Information at risk could include bank account, credit card, and health insurance details.

When businesses seek savings by offshoring jobs to overseas data processing centres, it’s only reasonable that their Australian customers are told, so they can stay in control of their personal data, and make informed choices about which businesses they want to deal with.

Some businesses currently mention their overseas data processing in their privacy policies, but there is no way for Australians to be sure whether or not this is happening.

Currently businesses can make whatever arrangements they like for processing personal data in countries - without informing their customers. Labor will consult with businesses on the best way to ensure Australians know when their details are being sent offshore.

I have already suggested that one way to protect Australian families is to amend to the Privacy Act, requiring that when businesses first collect information from consumers, they inform consumers if their personal information will be sent overseas.

CANBERRA

10 OCTOBER 2006

Contact: George Svigos: 0417 196 836