Mandatory data breach notification on agenda: Privacy Commissioner

Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim has urged the Coalition government to revisit the Privacy Amendment (Privacy Alerts) Bill 2013 which lapsed after a second reading in parliament was delayed during June.

If reintroduced and passed by the new government, the bill will require government agencies and businesses to notify customers of serious data breaches in relation to personal, credit reporting, credit eligibility or tax file number information.

In June, a Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs recommended the bill should be passed, stating that mandatory data breach notifications would benefit both Australian consumers and industry stakeholders.

Speaking at an Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) event in Sydney, Pilgrim said that while it was a decision for the new government as to whether they reintroduce the new legislation, he was supportive of it becoming law.

“I will be putting to government that I think it is an important piece of legislation,” he said. “It’s something that needs to be given strong consideration for reintroduction.”

Pilgrim added that the results from its Community Attitudes to Privacy survey of 1000 consumers indicate Australians want mandatory data breach notification.

Ninety-six per cent of survey participants expect to be informed if their information is lost by a government agency or public company, while 95 per cent of respondents wanted to be made aware of how their information is handled on a day-to-day basis.

Over 60 per cent of Australians surveyed decided not to deal with an organisation because of concerns over how their personal information had been or may be used. This was an increase from 40 per cent in 2007’s survey.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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