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“More control over our data” – The Privacy Commission calls for greater control over personal data in Australia

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Australia are reportedly lagging behind many countries in terms of their data protection; as evidenced in the recent Red Cross Blood Service data breach, which was dubbed the “largest data breach in Australian history“.

Now, the Privacy Commission, along with many other organisations, are calling for an independent agency to act as a watchdog of the use of their citizens’ data.

Of course, we welcome such moves.

Productivity Commission

If now is not the time for the Australians to implement a watchdog, then I don’t know when is!

The Red Cross data breach, where around 1.3 million files were accessed – including 550,000 people’s private medical information – is a clear example of why an independent agency is important to have.

Earlier this year, The Register called for such an agency.

The Productivity Commission seems to have followed the advice, as a 650 page document, the draft Data Availability and Use, was published this month. The lengthy draft document calls for a National Data Custodian which would have responsibility for “accrediting data sharing release” of “a suite of national interest datasets”. This effectively means that the Productivity Commission are campaigning for an independent privacy data agency who will be responsible for overseeing the use of their citizens’ data.

The “Comprehensive Right”

The document which details their citizens’ rights is labelled the “Comprehensive Right”.

This allows citizens to:

  1. Retain the power to view their information which is stored; editing them as they wish; and ensure people are informed if the information is disclosed to a third party;
  2. To opt-out of data collection in specified circumstances;
  3. To have a machine-readable copy of data.

In effect, the aim of the framework is to provide citizens with more control of their data. In the media release, they place an emphasis on data being an ‘asset’, and this asset should be used as the owner pleases. It’s important that they have named the data as an asset, because it’s fast becoming that way with the alarming rates of cyber-attacks.

The Comprehensive Right would also give authority for the data owners to decide who they should direct their data to, whether it be to a doctor, insurance company or bank, as examples. This could have a healthy impact on competition in Australia, as it will allow customers to move their data from one business to another if they’re unhappy.

What’s important too is the right for people to opt out of data collecting activities, which should allow consumers to choose whether they wish for their private data to be collected by various organisations and businesses.

Benefits of the report

The proposals seem to be positive for consumers as it gives them an active role in their data. This should also allow for businesses and organisations to offer better services to consumers.

If consumers have the free choice to move from one business to another, this can increase and promote healthy competition. It can also send out messages to businesses and Governments to process and handle data in the correct manner.

What is important to note is that, if consumers are given more control over their data, it will hopefully minimise the risk of potential data breaches in the future.

IMPORTANT: advice on this page is intended to be up-to-date for the 'first published date'.

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Your privacy is extremely important to us. Information on how we handle your data is in our Privacy Policy.
You have the right to object to the processing of your personal data.

First published by Editor on November 30, 2016
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