Privacy Law and Policy Reporter
The Australian Privacy Commissioner, Moira Scollay, released on 18 August 1997 a Consultation Paper, Information Privacy in Australia: A National Scheme for Fair Information Practices in the Private Sector. The Consultation Paper is her response to the Prime Minister’s announcement in March 1997 that the Commissioner would be available to help business ‘in the development of voluntary codes of conduct to meet privacy standards’, since the Government had decided to abandon its proposals to extend the Privacy Act 1988 to the private sector (see 4 PLPR 1). This special issue of PLPR presents the whole Consultation Paper, less only the appendices and some introductory discussion of privacy.
The key elements of the scheme proposed in the Consultation Paper are:
The Commissioner is soliciting written comments by mid-September, and by that time will also have completed initial discussions with business groups and consumer/privacy groups to assess their interest in participating in the process. She then proposes to hold forums in each State and Territory capital in October to allow broader public discussion of the proposal, and to invite nominations to the scheme development committee. It seems that consensus will be sought on the composition of this committee. The committee would set its own timetable and deadlines but ‘the Commissioner sees a need for substantial progress during the first half of 1998’.
Some consumer and advocacy groups have announced their intention to boycott the process but some are considering involvement in at least the October discussions. The extent to which business interests accept the need for a scheme of the form proposed by the Commissioner also remains unclear. The Commissioner notes that even to gain commitment to the process, let alone achieve any consensus, will not be easy.
The Consultation Paper is on the internet at http://www2.austlii.edu.au/itlaw/national scheme/national.html
Graham Greenleaf, General Editor.