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Families to benefit as privacy reforms pass the Parliament::

Australia’s privacy laws have been brought into the digital age, under landmark reforms passed by the Parliament today.

“These reforms are the most significant changes to privacy law since Labor introduced the Privacy Act in 1988,” Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said.

“In the digital age, as Australians connect with each other through social media, purchase footy tickets or pay bills online it is vital that we protect consumers’ personal information.

“These reforms give consumers more power to opt out of direct marketing, new rights to correct their credit report and tighten up the rules for corporations sending personal information offshore.

“The laws will also give the Commonwealth Privacy Commissioner new powers to resolve complaints, conduct investigations and get a remedy for consumers.”

“Our privacy laws must continue to meet community expectations.”

The reforms will also:

• Introduce comprehensive credit reporting into Australia for the first time. Comprehensive credit reporting is likely to lower levels of indebtedness through more accurate assessments of an individual’s’ creditworthiness.
• Give a higher standard of protection to an individual’s “sensitive information”, including health related information, DNA and biometric data.
• Introduce new civil penalty orders, including up to $1.1 million in fines for corporations’ privacy breaches.

“These laws are the culmination of an extensive consultation process that began with the inquiry of the Australian Law Reform Commission back in 2006. Consultations have been ongoing in 2012 with privacy advocates, consumer advocates and industry,” Ms Roxon said.

To ensure adequate time for public education and implementation, the reforms will commence 15 months after royal assent.

Further information is available from www.ag.gov.au/Privacy/Pages/Privacy-Reforms.aspx.

Media Contact: Attorney-General’s Office - 02 6277 7300

30 November 2012