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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 74; (1996) 3(8) Privacy Law & Policy Reporter 160

Private parts

compiled by Graham Greenleaf


There is something about Christmas Eve that brings out the giving spirit in politicians. Christmas Eve `95 saw the appointment of Justice Michael Kirby to the Australian High Court, a long-lasting benefit to privacy interests from the then Labor government. This Christmas Eve saw a bonus issue: the Commonwealth Attorney-General announced the appointment of a new Privacy Commissioner (see below), and Victorian MP Victor Perton delivered a report recommending a Privacy Act to the Victorian Government (see below). Perhaps by next Christmas NSW Attorney-General Geoff Shaw will be in the giving mood. A Happy and Private 1997 to all our readers!


Moira Scollay, a career federal public servant who is at present a Second Taxation Commissioner and Deputy Registrar of the Child Support Agency (since 1994), has been appointed as Australia's second Privacy Commissioner, to succeed Kevin O'Connor (see <3 PLPR 131>). Ms Scollay, 46, has previously held other positions in Taxation Office (since 1987), the Public Service Board (Head of Office Structures Review, 1984-1987; Assistant Director of Graduate Recruitment, 1983-1984), and Registrar of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies (1981-1983). Who's Who in Australia 1997 records Ms Scollay's educational background as BA LittB (ANU) Grad DipEd (CCAE) GradDip Exec Ldrship (Office Higher Ed, Qld). Announcing her appointment on 23 December, Attorney-General Daryl Williams said Ms Scollay previous positions all had a `people focus' and that she has `demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities' in these positions. Ms Scollay is not known to have had any previous involvement in privacy issues, other than those that are inherent in administering a significant surveillance agency such as the Child Support Agency.

Given Ms Scollay's background, the business sector and privacy advocates will no doubt scrutinise her early reactions to the demands of government agencies for assurances of her independence (see the letter from the Privacy Charter Council in 3 PLPR 131). Perhaps the UK example of the appointment of Elizabeth France as the second Data Protection Registrar in 1994 should be borne in mind. Ms France's background as a Home Office employee since 1971 was widely regarded as a bad omen, but her independent approach as Registrar, particularly on the ID cards issue, has come as a surprise -- not least to the Home Office.

Ms Scollay's appointment is for five years, commencing February 1997. Head of the Privacy Branch, Nigel Waters, has been appointed Acting Privacy Commissioner in the interim. One of the first opportunities to hear Ms Scollay's views will be at `The New Privacy Laws' Conference on 19 February, sponsored by PLPR, where she will give an address on `The Roles of a Privacy Commissioner'.


On 24 December Victor Perton MP delivered the Report of the Victorian Data Protection Advisory Council (see <3 PLPR 73>) to Alan Stockdale, Treasurer and Minister for Multimedia. The Report is believed to recommend a Victorian Privacy Act, limited in coverage to the Victorian public sector, given the Commonwealth's announced intentions in relation to the private sector. Legislation is expected to be presented to the Victorian Parliament in the first half of this year.


Tasmania has joined the Australian jurisdictions giving serious attention to privacy issues. In November 1996 the Information Strategy Unit of the Department of Premier and Cabinet circulated among Tasmanian Government agencies a Discussion Paper on Information Privacy Principles (IPPs). While not foreclosing on the possibility of privacy legislation, the paper deals with how a set of IPPs could be implemented administratively by Tasmanian agencies, as has been done in SA since 1989. v

Further information on development of the Tasmanian IPPs can be obtained from Simon Roberts, Research Officer, Information Strategy Unit, Department of Premier & Cabinet, GPO Box 123B, Hobart Tasmania 7001, tel (03) 6233 6126 (S.


The rapid recent increase in electronic `junk mail' sent unsolicited via internet to many thousands of recipients world wide (`spam') is starting to generate retaliatory measures, such as more junk mail like this:

Get lots of e-mail offering you get-rich-quick schemes? Want to hit back? `Spam Hater' is free Windows software that helps you respond effectively and makes it hot for these people. * Analyses the Spam * Extracts a list of addresses of relevant Postmasters, etc. * Generates a `WHOIS' query to help track the perpetrator * Prepares a reply * Choice of legal threats, insults or your own message * Appends a copy of the Spam if required * Puts it in a mail window ready for sending. Spam Hater works with lots of popular e-mail programs directly -- there's no tedious cutting and pasting. v

Further details and software are available from but have not been tested by PLPR.

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