We all know that the Privacy Act is the law which regulates the handing of personal information about individuals.  But do you know that the most significant development in privacy law reform since the Privacy Act was first introduced in 1988 is about to commence?

The Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012 is a part of the privacy law reform process that began in 2004.  It introduces many significant changes to the Privacy Act which will commence shortly on 12 March 2014.  The Australian Privacy Principles (often abbreviated to the “APPs”) takes centre-stage in the reform, and they replace the National Privacy Principles and Information Privacy Principles.  Many of the APPs are different from the existing principles, including the APPs relating to use of personal information for direct marketing and cross-border disclosure of personal information.

A new mandatory Credit Reporting Code of Conduct will also take effect on 12 March.  The Code operates alongside the Privacy Act, and it regulates the exchange of information between “credit providers” and “credit reporting bodies”.  “Credit providers” and “credit reporting bodies” both have special meaning as defined by the Privacy Act.

The first step to Privacy Act compliance is to understand the APPs.  The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has issued APP guidelines, and both the APPs and the APP guidelines are available on the OAIC’s website.  Sound APP knowledge is essential to lawyers regardless of which area they practice in.  This is because not only they are often required to advice clients on privacy matters, but often they themselves will also need to comply with privacy legislation.

If you want to learn more take CPD Interactive’s latest online course Australian privacy principles essentials 2014.