Privacy bill given the go-ahead

An inquiry into the Privacy Amendment Bill has made several recommendations to the government.

A parliamentary report has been tabled examining the Privacy Amendment Bill 2012 which recommends the government pass the bill in the House of Representatives.

The bill will clarify the role of the privacy commissioner and their powers, with the privacy commissioner previously stating he was looking forward to additional powers being passed by parliament.

The privacy commissioner will now be able to apply for civil penalties against companies who breach the Privacy Act, with fines ranging from $2200 to $220,000 for individuals and from $110,000 to $1.1 million for companies.

It will also give power to the privacy commissioner to develop and codes which companies will need to adhere to if it is in the public's interest.

The bill was introduced to the House of Representatives in May this year, with the bill to amend the Privacy Act and is part of the government’s response to the ALRC inquiry. The first stage of the government's response addresses 197 out of the 295 recommendations from the ALRC.

The committee has also recommended the bill be subject to a review in 12 months after it commences.

A total of 39 submissions were made to the inquiry.

“The committee has examined the bill to ensure that an appropriate balance between privacy protection and the convenient flow of data has been achieved,” it said in a statement.

“The committee recognises that considerable consultation has gone on prior to the introduction of this bill to the House, and that many of the provisions proposed are the enactment of recommendations made in the ALRC review.”

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