Privacy laws

New privacy laws commenced 12 March 2014

The new Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012 (Cwlth), Privacy Regulation 2013 (Cwlth) and Credit Reporting Privacy Code have taken effect on 12 March 2014.

Significant changes have been made to privacy law, including:

  • 13 new Australian Privacy Principles that apply to businesses, replacing the Information Privacy Principles (IPP) and National Privacy Principles (NPP)
  • comprehensive credit reporting and enhanced privacy protection
  • enhanced powers of the Australian Information Commissioner to resolve complaints, conduct assessments and seek compliance
  • the new mandatory Credit Reporting Privacy Code.

Privacy and small business

Some small business operators are exempt from the Privacy Act. Check whether your small business needs to comply with the Act.

Although you may find your business is exempt, you can still choose to comply. Benefits of complying with the legislation can include increased consumer confidence and trust in your business and its operations. Read more about the benefits of opting-in and how to do it.

Workplace information

Employee records in the private sector are not covered by the Privacy Act. An employer does not have to grant an employee access to their employment records.

Learn more about collecting and handling employee personal information in the workplace.

Sales and marketing

How customer information, gathered through market research, is protected, depends on how the data was collected. In general the following rules apply:

Note that some customer information may be covered by both pieces of legislation.

Consumer credit reporting

The Privacy Act provides safeguards for individuals in relation to consumer credit reporting. The use of customer information is restricted to assessing applications for credit and other activities involving giving credit.

Learn more about how the Privacy Act applies to consumer credit reporting.

Health service providers

The Privacy Act provides extra protections for handling individual's health information, and all organisations that provide a health service are covered by the Act.

If this applies to your business you should read how the Privacy Act applies to the private health sector.

Legal obligations for online business

Online businesses need to be aware of additional laws governing such things such as spam, electronic transactions and intellectual property. Learn more about legal obligations for online business.

Queensland Government and privacy

The Office of the Information Commissioner Queensland, under the Right to Information Act 2009, promotes access to government held information and protects individual's personal information held by government agencies. Read more about privacy in Queensland.

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