Privacy Law and Policy Reporter
Financial System Enquiry Discussion Paper (Cth), November 1996 (Wallis Inquiry)
Privacy Commissioner (Cth) -- Submission to the Financial System Enquiry, January 1997
The Wallis Inquiry's Discussion Paper in Chapter 8 `Consumer Protection' says the Enquiry will examine two issues:
The Privacy Commissioner's submission is unambiguous in its answers:
The Wallis Inquiry's Discussion Paper also notes in passing two proposals by financial institutions to Wallis, which the Privacy Commissioner's submission rejects as subverting the basic elements of information privacy.
The Privacy Commissioner's submission says that high level of intrusion into the affairs of the majority of non-defaulting Australians in order to attempt to minimise the level of default `is hard to justify'. `This mass surveillance was rejected by Federal Parliament in 1989 in passing the credit reporting amendments to the Privacy Act. Nothing has changed in the last eight years to make this major privacy intrusion any more acceptable now than it was then', according to Acting Privacy Commissioner Nigel Waters. Community expectations of privacy are not consistent with such a change, the submission says.
The Privacy Commissioner's submission says that allowing credit reports to be used for marketing `directly cuts across the letter and intent of Pt IIIA', and the more general question of using other personal information collected by one entity for the marketing purposes of a related entity `is at the crux of privacy concerns'. The Commissioner considers that `unless they are advised to the contrary, it is fair to say that most customers who have entered into a relationship with one entity of a corporate group are unlikely to be aware of the breadth of corporate activities carried out by the group'.
The extent to which the proposed private sector extensions to the Privacy Act preserve the level of financial privacy in Pt IIIA will be one of the principle `litmus tests' of whether the new Commonwealth government intends to protect privacy or subvert it. The Privacy Commissioner's approach to Wallis indicates an intention to guard this important public interest.Graham Greenleaf, General Editor.
Maggie Hickie (Leader of the Opposition, Territory Labor) Protection from the Misuse of Personal Information (Discussion Paper, October 1996)
The NT Labor Party's Discussion Paper indicates that they favour legislation to implement information privacy principles (IPPs), but includes few specific commitments other than the following:
The Discussion Paper says the legislation should cover `all record holders in the NT Government's operations with a limited power to exclude by regulation'.
Copies or details may be obtained from Mark Nelson, Legal Adviser, Office of the Opposition Leader, NT Government, ph: (08) 8999 3883
The NT Opposition paper coincides with the Government's development of an options paper (see <3 PLPR 100>). It also shows how debased the word `Ombudsman' has become -- enforcement powers and hearing appeals are antithetical to the original concept of an ombudsman as someone who can investigate, recommend, conciliate, persuade, publicise, and that's all (the NSW Privacy Committee, for example). NT Labor is really recommending an Information and Privacy Commissioner with enforcement powers, as it should in the 1990s.
Graham Greenleaf, General Editor.