Privacy Law and Policy Reporter
Federal Privacy Commissioner suffers budget cuts despite increased workload
Despite the major increase in enquiries and complaints since the extension of jurisdiction to the private sector, the Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner is reported to have lost funding in the recent federal budget and will have to reduce staff numbers from 37 to 35.
Modest funding increases to tackle privacy complaints in NZ
In contrast, the New Zealand Privacy Commissioner has been successful in his bid for more resources to tackle the mounting complaints workload.
The NZ Commissioner is to get more than $600,000 in 2003/04; $425,000 in 2004/05 and $200,000 in each of the two following years to help clear the backlog and establish a new case management approach. The Commissioner received 1044 complaints in the year to June 2002, and closed 960, but still has a backlog of more than 400 complaints which have been open for more than a year.
Sources: media releases and reports and budget papers.
Consultation on consent and capacity
Privacy NSW are consulting on draft guidelines dealing with the vexed issue of consent and capacity — how does an agency get consent to use personal information if the individual concerned lacks the capacity to give or refuse consent? Although this Privacy NSW initiative is aimed at compliance with the NSW PPIPA, the issue is one that arises in all privacy laws and many other sector specific laws as well. The draft guidelines, and details of the consultation, are available at <www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/pc.nsf/pages/ consent&capacity6>.
Monthly update on inquiries and complaints under the federal Act
The Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner is now publishing monthly updates on the number and type of inquiries and complaints received under the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth). While only crude summary graphics are presented, it appears that the number of NPP complaints continues to rise, although the overall number of telephone and written enquiries for this year is projected to be in the same order as 2001-2002.
See <www.privacy.gov.au/about/ complaints/index.html>.
EU Directive — mixed report card
The European Commission adopted the first report on the transposition of the Data Protection Directive on 15 May 2003.
The report concludes that the 1995 Data Protection Directive has broadly achieved its aim of ensuring strong protection for privacy while making it easier for personal data to be moved around the EU. However, late transposition by Member States and differences in the ways the Directive is applied at national level have prevented Europe’s economy from getting the full benefit of the Directive. The report proposes a work plan to reduce those differences, based on co-operation among Member States and between Member States and the Commission, followed by a review in 2005 of whether amendments to the Directive are necessary. The report is based on wide consultation, including an international conference and an online survey to which over 10,000 responses were received.
The report is published at <http://europa.eu.int/comm/internal_ market/privacy/lawreport_en.htm>.
It is accompanied by a technical analysis that looks at the transposition in Member States in more detail, analyses the impact of the Directive on the internal market and in particular examines the application of the Directive to the data processing of image and sound personal data as required by Article 33 of the Directive. l
Source: EU Commission.