Australia to toughen privacy laws with huge hike in penalties for breaches • TechCrunch


Australia has confirmed that the upcoming legislative change will significantly strengthen online privacy laws after a series of data breaches in recent weeks – such as Optus telco breach last month.

“Unfortunately, the massive breaches of privacy in recent weeks have shown that the current safeguards are inadequate. The Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus, said in a decision statement in the weekend.

“We need better laws to regulate how companies manage the vast amount of data they collect, and greater penalties to incentivize better behaviour.”

The changes will be made by amending the country’s privacy laws, after a lengthy consultation process on the reforms.

Dreyfus said the Privacy (Enforcement and Other Measures) Amendment Act of 2022 will increase the maximum penalties that can be applied under Privacy Act 1988 For serious or repeated breaches of privacy from the current fine of A$2.22 million (~$1.4 million) to whichever is greater:

  • 50 million Australian dollars (~ 32 million dollars);
  • 3 times the value of any benefit obtained through the misuse of information; or
  • 30% of the company’s adjusted turnover in the relevant period

These amounts are much higher than A previous draft of the reform last year (When considering fines of A$10 million or 10% of sales volume).

Gross abuses such as those that occurred in Optus – and others that severely followed, At Medibank Private . health insurance company – It seems to have focused the minds of legislators.

A change of government, earlier this year, also means a new broom is in the works.

Additional changes that Dreyfus is pursuing include greater powers for the Australian Information Commissioner and an enhanced scheme for notifiable data breaches to provide the privacy monitor with a more comprehensive view of what has been compromised in the breach, so that they can also assess the risk of harm to individuals.

The Information Commissioner and the Australian Communications and Media Authority will also be given greater powers to share information to enable more joint regulatory action.

Both agencies have opened investigations into Optus after the breach last month.

The Privacy Act Amendment Bill is due to be presented to the Australian Parliament this week, in Reuters.

She added that the Attorney General’s Department is also conducting a comprehensive review of the privacy law that is due to be completed this year, with expected recommendations for further reform.

“I look forward to support from across Parliament for this bill, which is an essential part of the government’s agenda to ensure that Australia’s privacy framework is able to respond to the new challenges of the digital age. The Albanian government is committed to protecting Australians’ personal information and further strengthening privacy laws,” Dreyfus added.

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