What will the Australian privacy law review deliver?

A looming federal election brings uncertainty over the Australian privacy law review and questions about whether new regulations will align with Europe’s GDPR.

Australian Parliament House, Capital Hill, Canberra, Australia
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Privacy law in Australia is currently being reviewed, part of the government’s response to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Digital Platforms Inquiry. The review will consider the scope of privacy regulations as well as the use of notifications, enforcements, and regulatory frameworks and whether Australia should introduce a statutory tort that would provide for damages in serious invasions of privacy.

However, with a looming federal election, there’s more uncertainty than usual about the outcome of the review and the form any new privacy regulations might take. Additionally, with many privacy regulations around the world influenced by the European Union’s GDPR regime, there are questions about whether new local regulations should align with the EU’s approach.

One of the most fundament aspects of privacy — and one that may or may not be enacted in any new laws — is the general right to privacy. As things stand, Australia doesn’t have a general right to privacy, which it makes it very challenging for people to go to court if something is causing them serious harm.

Many legal experts say Australia should have a right to privacy. For one, the Australian Law Reform Commission’s review recommended a tort of ‘serious invasion of privacy’. “Every law reform report for over a decade has concluded that we do,” says Graham Greenleaf, a professor of law and information systems at UNSW Sydney and founding codirector of the Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII).

Where Australian privacy regulation needs to be strengthened

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