Privacy Law and Policy Reporter
Compiled by Graham Greenleaf
Australian Commissioner O'Connor has delivered a blunt warning to the Commonwealth Employment Service that it should expedite changes to its forms so as not to ask employment applicants unrestricted questions about criminal records, possibly in breach of Pt VIIC of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth). He said that he would have to take steps to act on complaints shortly, when speaking at the IIR Conference ''Protecting Information Privacy' in Sydney on June 6
The comprehensive and enforceable nature of New Zealand's Privacy Act 1993 has led to a proliferation of publications to assist those who need to comply with the Act and other NZ privacy laws.
Liz Longworth and Tim McBride (two of the Reporter's Editorial Board) are authors of The Privacy Act - A Guide (330 pages, 23 Chapters), to be published by GP Publications at NZ$39.95 (plus $3.75 for postage). Orders can be sent to Freepost 10050 GP Publications PO Box 12 052 Wellington, or Freefax 0800 80 4454.
Paul Roth is also publishing a commentary on privacy law in Mazengarb's Employment Law (Butterworths).
The collected works of Commissioner Slane and his staff, a 200+ page compilation entitled Privacy Act 1993: a selection of background materials on the Privacy Act 1993 and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner July 1992 - April 1994 is available from the Commisioner's Office for NZ$30 (post free). It is an invaluable volume, containing 33 speeches, articles, reports and news releases by the Commissioner and his senior staff. The 1994 papers alone cover privacy issues as diverse as those affecting libraries, medical ethics, domestic violence, archives, child support and whistleblowers. Let's hope it becomes an annual volume! Copies may be obtained from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, Box 466 Auckland.
The Commissioner's Office has also republished Meg Montague's Private Lives? An Initial Investigation of Privacy and Disability Issues, originally published by the Australian Privacy Commissioner's Office and the Office of the Public Advocate (Victoria). It contains a special supplement on disability issues and New Zealand law. It is available for NZ$5 from the Commissioner
The European Union's High Level Group on Information Society (also known as the ''Bangemann Task Force' after EU Commissioner for Industry and Information Technology Martin Bangemann) had its first meeting with US government and industry representatives in the US on 5-8 April. The three topics for discussion were standardisation, intellectual property and data protection. They agreed to include Japan in future discussions. With privacy now an important consideration in the development of the US National Information Infrastructure (see story this issue), Australian policy makers need to ''participate positively in supra- national endeavours' (as Commissioner O'Connor has said) or we will have little say in these developments
The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission has called for nominations for the 1994 Human Rights Medal (for an outstanding contribution to the protection or promotion of human rights in Australia) and Awards (for promotion of understanding and public discussion via the arts or media). A similar award is made to an Australian-based company. Nominations close 15 July 1994, and details may be obtained from HREOC on (02) 229 7618 or Box 5218 Sydney 2001. Perhaps Mr Toonen should be nominated for promoting the recognition of privacy as a human right
Continuing the ''who's who in privacy' series, NZ Commissioner Slane's offices are headed by Blair Stewart (Manager, Codes and Legislation), Auckland Manager Robert Stevens (with a staff of four investigation and inquiries officers) and Wellington Manager Rodney Haines (also with a staff of four investigation and inquiries officers).
The NZ Privacy Commissioner's Privacy Issues Forum held at the University of Auckland on 12 May was, by any reckoning, an outstanding success. Over 130 attendees enjoyed an outstandingly high quality range of papers, and the discussion from the floor usually matched the quality of the papers. They take privacy issues seriously in New Zealand!
A good indication of the diversity and quality of the Conference can be seen from its pre-proceedings, which contain the following papers (generally 6-10 pages each): O'Connor, K ''The international privacy context: An Australian perspective'; Tobin, J ''Privacy - A consumer perspective'; Longworth, L ''Duties of a privacy officer'; Office of the Privacy Commissioner (Aust.) ''A clean slate - Australian experience of spent convictions'; McBride, T and Tobin, R ''NZ privacy law other than the Privacy Act 1993'; Preston, E ''Secrets within the family - Adoption'; Atkin, B ''Assisted reproduction and privacy'; Wood, B and Hassall, I ''Secrets within the family - child abuse and privacy issues'; Liddell, G ''Statutory powers to demand information - Their impact on the Privacy Act 1993'; Donnelly, L ''Interreleationship between the Privacy Act and the Official Information Act'; Greenleaf, G ''Johns v ASC - Privacy for compulsorily acquired information'; Montague, M ''Private lives - An initial investigation of privacy and disability issues'; Toft, P ''Privacy Act complaints procedures'; Hosking, P ''Functions of the Proceedings Commissioner and the Complaints Review Tribunal in relation to privacy complaints'; Liddell, G ''Some arguments concerning privacy and the NZ Bill of Rights Act 1990'; Stewart, B ''Should the right to privacy be expressly recognised in the NZ Bill of Rights Act?'; Roth, P ''At the employment law /privacy law interface'; Gaudin, G ''Employment drug testing and employment privacy'; Edwards, J ''Public registers'; Whiteman, B ''Public register privacy principles - Some issues for local government'. Selected papers will be re-published in the Reporter.