Privacy Bill change gets go-ahead

After hours of rowdy debate about whether the Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Bill 2000 will stimulate or hinder the growth of e-commerce, the controversial legislation was finally passed in the House of Representatives.

Despite the long list of amendments made to the bill, both the government and Labor opposition were unable to agree on the level of privacy protection Australians will see on the Internet.

The government is pushing to have the bill passed in the Senate by Christmas but it faces strong opposition from Labor and the democrats who believe the 'soft-touch' legislation does not go far enough in protecting privacy.

The government believes its co-regulatory approach will support the growth of e-commerce in Australia and accused Labor of being heavy handed for seeking tougher privacy laws.

"A heavy-handed, technology specific approach is not what is demanded or needed," Attorney-General Daryl Williams said.

In response NSW Labor MP Anthony Albanese asked: "Why should the private sector be less regulated than government when it comes to storing personal information about Australian citizens?"

Both sides of the house are aiming to have the bill in place by July.

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