Privacy guidelines on e-ads and spam cause concern

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has raised concerns about draft privacy guidelines to be released today which will force companies to seek consumer permission to send mobile phone text messages and e-mail advertisements.

The ACCI said the guidelines, which are part of the Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Bill 2000 will create unnecessary red tape.

While supporting the guidelines in principle, ACCI chief executive Mark Paterson said the chamber was concerned about a crack down on personalised advertising.

"What we need to make sure is in trying to deal with one industry sector, we don't impose on all businesses a regime that's too onerous for their business operation," he said.

Federal Privacy Commissioner Malcolm Crompton is seeking industry comment on the guidelines, which come into affect on December 21, 2001.

"I will be consulting widely to get maximum input to these guidelines; we need to test the guidelines for practicality and content to ensure they deliver good outcomes," Crompton said.

As part of the consultation process, Crompton said, extensive consumer research has been undertaken and 92 per cent of those surveyed wanted companies to get their permission before sending spam or SMS messages.

"The need to get permission from consumers for marketing really only applies in the e-world because it would be impractical in the real world; companies need to remember good privacy is good business," he said.

Consultations end July 6, 2001 and the final National Privacy Principles Guidelines will be published in early October.

A draft copy of the guidelines are available at www.privacy.gov.au/rfc/index.html and submissions should be sent to consult@privacy.gov.auGuidelines on the information-handling practices of health service providers will be issued next week and PKI guidelines in the next few days.

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