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Aussie privacy reforms to deal with social networks

The government plans to reform Australia's 20 year old privacy laws so they are better placed to deal with the Internet age, according to Senator John Faulkner, who highlighted issues such as social networking sites and online retailers.
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Written by Suzanne Tindal on

The government plans to reform Australia's 20 year old privacy laws so they are better placed to deal with the Internet age, according to Senator John Faulkner, who highlighted issues such as social networking sites and online retailers.

Faulkner highlighted how privacy is changing: "Most Australians think they know what privacy means — and probably have views as to how their privacy ought to be protected and preserved.

"Unfortunately privacy isn't that simple. Today, privacy can be compromised not only by the ways in which governments and corporations store and manage information, but also by a casual Facebook posting by a friend-of-a-friend, or by the record keeping practices of an international online retailer, or an auction site with servers located in several jurisdictions," he said.

There have been major changes since the Privacy Act was written in 1988, said Faulkner, who highlighted the ease at which information can cross international borders. But this data flow is necessary, he said, calling it "the life blood of modern business".

Business and social networking have ensured cross-border communication has become "a fact of life", he said, just as jurisdictional limitations in dealing with cross-border flows are a fact of life.

"Cross border information flows are, by their very nature, an issue that cannot be addressed by just one state or even just one international organisation," he said.

"The release of the ALRC's final report at the end of May will provide an opportunity for the Government to tackle the challenge of privacy reform and build a privacy regime to serve modern Australia," said Faulkner.

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