Privacy Law and Policy Reporter
cting NSW Privacy Commissioner
NSW will have an Acting Privacy Commissioner for the rest of this year. Ms Julie Baker, Assistant Director General of the NSW Attorney General’s Department, is Acting Commissioner in August-September, to be followed by another Acting Commissioner for a further three to four months, with a permanent Commissioner to be appointed by the end of the year if possible. l
Source: Privacy NSW.
OFPC invites input on Privacy Act
The Office of the Federal Privacy Commissioner (OFPC) has written to a range of stakeholders — agencies, businesses and NGOs — inviting them to consider systematically collecting information about their experience under the Privacy Act, with a view to making a submission later in 2003. This request anticipates the ‘two year’ view of the Act foreshadowed by the Attorney-General when the private sector amendment legislation was introduced, but which has not yet been formally requested by the Government. The Commissioner is particularly keen to obtain information about the number and type of enquiries and complaints, and how they have been dealt with; relevant survey results, and impact on business costs and processes. l
Source: letter from Privacy Commissioner June 2003.
Health records guidelines in NSW
Privacy NSW is in the process of developing legislative guidelines to assist people in their application of the Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002, which takes effect in March 2004. A formal public consultation process will commence shortly (approximately July 2003). Regular updates will also be posted on the Privacy NSW website at <www.lawlink. nsw.gov.au/pc>. l
US opts out of telemarketing
15.3 million Americans registered themselves on the national ‘do not call’ register administered by the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission in the first five days after it opened on July 2003. The law will be enforced from 1 October, with fines reaching $11,000 per call in the most extreme circumstances. There are significant exemptions, including for market researchers, charities, political organisations and businesses with an existing or former customer relationship with the individual. Commentators suggest that it will accelerate the momentum for anti-spam laws. The FTC expects the do not call list to cover 60 million numbers, or 36 per cent of US subscribers, during 2003, as State do not call registries are integrated into the FTC registry. l
Sources: <www.donotcall.gov/>, Toronto Globe and Mail and Tim Dixon.
Access to airline passenger data — EU, US concerns
The EU Article 29 Working Group of national Data Protection Commissioners has issued Opinion 4/2003 on the Level of Protection ensured in the US for the Transfer of Passengers’ Data. This reviews the progress of the Commission’s negotiations with the US administration following the Working Group’s earlier (October 2002) opinion, and in particular reviews the ‘undertakings’ issued by the United States Bureau of Customs and Border Protection and the United States Transportation Security Administration. The Opinion makes the point that the authorities are now making requests for data from airlines that exceed the powers currently granted to European judicial and police authorities and/or authorities in charge of immigration matters or even of intelligence and security services when carrying out similar activities in the European Union.
The Opinion recommends the current arrangement for direct access by the US authorities to airline databases (described as a ‘pull’ system) be replaced as soon as possible by a ‘push’ system whereby the data are selected and transferred by airline companies. This change, which is apparently operationally acceptable to the US authorities, would apparently resolve or avoid a number of key issues. However, the Working Group also recommend major changes including to the type and amount of information provided, the timeframes, retention times, and permitted purposes. They also recommend that the assurances given by the US authorities be upgraded into binding commitments. l
Source: <http://europa.eu.int/comm/ internal_market/privacy/working group/wp2003/wpdocs03_en.htm>.