Privacy Law and Policy Reporter
Congratulations to General Editor Graham Greenleaf, who has been promoted to full Professor of Law at the University of New South Wales. UNSW has clearly recognised the value of Graham’s innovative work outside the normal run of teaching and research. This work includes his co-directorship of the indispensable and internationally recognised AustLII online legal information database; his tireless privacy advocacy, and of course his foundation and continued stewardship of this august journal.
A special commendation for alertness to readers who noticed the repetition in Volume 4 No 4 of the article on Privacy Commissioner Gatherings, by Blair Stewart, which had already appeared in Volume 4 No 2. It was worth as second read anyway, but no, Blair, that doesn’t count as two publications.
The government’s decision to establish the Office of the Privacy Commissioner statutorily separate from the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, (see (1997) 4 PLPR 80) did not come in time to save the Commission’s Privacy Branch from absorbing a share of the major cuts to the HREOC budget. By early 1998, the Branch, which will form the nucleus of the new Office once legislative amendments are passed, will have lost around ten staff since mid-1997. In the light of these changes, Commissioner Moira Scollay has made some structural adjustments to the organisation of the Branch. A new position of Deputy Privacy Commissioner was advertised in early December. Details of the new structure will be given in the next edition of PLPR.
In October 1997 the National Advisory Council on Consumer Affairs (NACCA) issued for comment Consumer protection in electronic commerce — Draft principles and Key Issues. Principle 9 states ‘Sellers must respect customer privacy’. NACCA expands on this general principle by reference to the OECD Guidelines, and also specifically recommends that ‘Selling or sharing of data with third parties must not occur without prior consent of the consumer’, and that Internet users should be informed about the proposed installation of so-called ‘cookies, and given the choice of not receiving them, preferably on an opt-in basis.
The Joint Federal Parliamentary Committee of Public Accounts is conducting an Inquiry into Internet Commerce, with terms of reference which include considering the current framework for consumer protection. The Australian Privacy Charter Council’s submission to this Inquiry is included elsewhere in this edition (4 PLPR 117).
The PAC will also be considering the Tax Commissioner’s recent report on the taxation implications of Internet Commerce, Tax and the Internet: Discussion Report of the ATO Electronic Commerce Project, August 1997. This paper includes the recommendation principle:
Well defined limits should be placed on transactional or user anonymity in electronic payment systems to ensure these do not become vehicles for tax evasion. This principle seeks to balance the right to privacy with effective administration of the tax law.
The Charter Council submission to the PAC comments on this recommendation.