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Privacy Law and Policy Reporter

Privacy Law and Policy Reporter (PLPR)
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Greenleaf, Graham --- "Private Parts" [1996] PrivLawPRpr 54; (1996) 3(5) Privacy Law & Policy Reporter 100

Private parts

compiled by Graham Greenleaf


As a result of disclosures to the NSW Police Royal Commission, the NSW Minister for Community Services, Ron Dyer, instructed the Community Services Commission to inquire into the recruitment and screening of staff of the Department of Community Services and the Department of Juvenile Justice, and non-government services funded or approved by them or the Ageing and Disability Department, where they are involved in providing care to people in care. This covers children in temporary care or residential centres or in custody, state wards, and disabled persons in care. `Positive vetting', or `probity checking' as it is now called, is likely to become far more extensive in NSW as a result of this inquiry. The Commission's report is due to go the Minister by the end of August.


The members of the NSW Privacy Committee have all been re-appointed, but only to 31 December 1996. It seems therefore that NSW Attorney-General Jeff Shaw still intends to have his as-yet-unseen Privacy and Data Protection Bill through Parliament, and the new Privacy Commissioner in place, by the New Year. If he misses this deadline, the Privacy Committee will survive to celebrate its 21st birthday, having opened its doors in April 1976.


Dawn Lawrie, Anti-Discrimination Commission for the NT, advises that the NT Attorney-General has asked the Secretary of his Department and the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner to prepare options on privacy for consideration by Cabinet, but no further details are available at this stage.


In PLPR's special issue on cryptography (3 PLPR 20), Roger Clarke examined the way in which polarised views on the use of cryptography threatened electronic commerce generally. The bodies that run the Internet -- the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) and the Internet Engineering Steering Group (IESG) -- have subsequently released a joint `Statement on Cryptographic Technology and the Internet', which says much the same thing as Clarke.

The two bodies `are disturbed to note that various governments have actual or proposed policies on access to cryptographic technology that either:

(a) impose export controls;

(b) restrict commercial and private users to weak mechanisms;

(c) mandate that private decryption keys should be in the hands of some third party; and/or

(d) prohibit the use of cryptology' (abridged).

They `would like to encourage policies that allow ready access to uniform strong cryptographic policies for all Internet users in all countries'.

They are particularly concerned about escrow. They say that `certification authorities should not be confused with escrow centres ... Key escrow implies that keys must be disclosed in some fashion, a flat-out contradiction of [the major principle of system design that users never reveal their private keys to anyone] ... Keys used for signatures and authentication [and hence for non-repudiability] must never be escrowed'.

`IAB and IESG Statement on Cryptographic Technology and the Internet', RFC 1984, August 1994 (text dated 24 July 1996), at:

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