Pilgrim reappointed yet again as Acting Australian Information Commissioner

Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim has gained his fifth extension as Acting Australian Information Commissioner.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

For the next four days, Australia will be without an Acting Australian Information Commissioner, as Timothy Pilgrim's term has expired and he will not be reappointed until Monday.

Since July last year, Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim has received a series of rolling three-month appointments to continue in the role of Acting Australian Information Commissioner.

Pilgrim's latest term expired on Tuesday; however, the Attorney-General's Department has informed ZDNet that Pilgrim will not be reappointed until next week.

"The attorney-general has reappointed Mr Timothy Pilgrim PSM as the Acting Australian Information Commissioner for three months from 25 July 2016," a department spokesperson said.

"During the period between 19 July and 25 July, Mr Pilgrim will return to his role as Privacy Commissioner. He will continue to manage the affairs of the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, and can undertake functions and exercise the Commissioner powers under the Privacy Act 1988 and the Freedom of Information Act 1982."

Since the Australian Federal Budget of 2014 was handed down, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has continued to operate in a state of limbo with regards to its future.

Initially set to be disbanded, the office struggled on without any funding set aside for it thanks to an obstinate Senate refusing to pass the legislation that would abolish it.

After its near-death experience, the office was eventually handed AU$9.3 million annually for the next four years in the 2016 Budget, although that funding will mostly be siphoned off the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Pilgrim was reappointed as Australian Privacy Commissioner for a 12-month term beginning in October last year.

"As privacy commissioner, Mr Pilgrim has developed [a] good working relationship with the businesses [sic] community, consumer groups, and Australian government agencies in building awareness of privacy rights and obligations," Attorney-General George Brandis said at the time.

In light of security concerns raised around popular augmented reality game, Pokemon Go, previously having full access to Google account data for some players, Pilgrim asked the company behind the game, Niantic, to ensure all data it collects complies with the Australian Privacy Act.

"This is a timely reminder that people need to read the privacy policies of all smartphone apps before signing up," Pilgrim said.

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