Date: May 02 2012
THE Australian Privacy Commissioner is to get greater powers to investigate and resolve complaints about privacy breaches, the federal Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, has announced.
Consumers will also have a greater ability to see information held about them by credit reporting agencies, and to have it corrected, a spokesman for Ms Roxon said.
The changes - to be introduced to Parliament in the winter session - are the government's response to a Senate committee review of proposed national privacy principles, which were developed in response to a 2008 report by the Australian Law Reform Commission.
The reform would give citizens a greater opportunity to control the use of their personal information by direct marketing companies and proactively ask for their details not to be disclosed.
Companies doing credit checks would have to justify negative listings and would be prohibited from collecting information on children, Ms Roxon said.
''These changes will provide much more power to consumers to be able to access and, if necessary, correct their credit reports.''
Consumers will no longer have to complain to the organisation concerned, but can go directly to the Privacy Commissioner, who will seek to mediate.
The changes should improve the reliability of credit risk information and lower default rates, the government said.
Other elements of the Law Reform Commission's recommendations are yet to be addressed.
The Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, praised the announcement as a ''significant step forward''.
''The new powers will allow me to resolve major privacy investigations more effectively and ensure that privacy continues to be valued as an important human right in Australia.''
''The strengthening of these powers also sends a strong message to government agencies and businesses that there can be significant consequences when personal information is not given an appropriate level of protection.''
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