[LINK] ALRC Releases Privacy Issues Paper

Bernard Robertson-Dunn brd at iimetro.com.au
Mon Oct 9 22:21:46 AEST 2006


What's even worse is the spin that Professor David Weisbrot has put on 
it when talking to the ABC.

	"The Government at the moment is proposing to take,
	I think, 17 or 18 different databases and merge them
	into the access card"?

I would have thought that he would have had a better idea what the 
access card was all about. It is most certainly nothing to do with 
merging databases.

I wonder if it is matter of competence or hidden agenda. Whatever it is, 
  to me he has, in one statement, demonstrated an irresponsible 
ignorance as well as lowered his credibility an order of magnitude.

I don't mind an informed debate but this is ridiculous.


Law Reform Commission to review the Privacy Act
The World Today - Monday, 9 October , 2006 12:33:00
Reporter: Chris Uhlmann
ABC World Today

ELEANOR HALL: Does the internet compromise your privacy?

The Federal Government is concerned that developments in information 
technology have outpaced our privacy laws, and it's asked the Australian 
Law Reform Commission to review the situation.

Now the Commission has released an issues paper and is calling for 
public submissions, as Chris Uhlmann reports.

CHRIS UHLMANN: The wheels of the law spin a lot more slowly than 
technology. Since national privacy laws were enacted in 1988, we've seen 
our homes filled with personal computers and the rise of the internet.

Most of us aren't even aware of how information about us is being 
gathered, according to the President of the Australian Law Reform 
Commission, Professor David Weisbrot.

DAVID WEISBROT: People aren't aware that when they're shopping, 
browsing, how much information is being collected about them.

There was a story in The New York Times just the other day about the 
major political parties in America having CD-ROMs given to candidates in 
each electorate which say, here are all the people in your electorate. 
This is whether they're married or not, how many kids they have, how 
they vote, what the big issues are for them, what their shopping 
patterns are, and all of that information was collected legally over the 

CHRIS UHLMANN: You can legislate for a particular jurisdiction, but this 
is a worldwide phenomenon. How do you stop it?

DAVID WEISBROT: That's right and one of the things that we're looking at 
are global data flows, and there are stories just in today's media about 
some banks and other major companies using offshore data processing 
centres. Those are covered by Australian law to the extent that they are 
processing centres simply for an Australian company.

But you're right, it's an international issue now. And we know with 
spam, for example, that you can put in good protections in Australia, 
but it doesn't stop us from getting massive amounts of spam from around 
the world, where regulation is much less strict.

CHRIS UHLMANN: How do you know what the next big thing is going to be? 
How do you anticipate where the privacy problems will arise in future?

DAVID WEISBROT: Yeah, well we've been talking to major technology 
companies, like Microsoft and other industry leaders, with exactly that 
sort of question, saying we don't want to do this inquiry into privacy 
every four or five years, tell us where communications is going, where 
electronics is going, what the technology is capable of doing, and to 
the extent at least that they can anticipate what that is, and we'll try 
to build that into our law to make it sufficiently robust to withstand 
at least another generation or two of technological change.

CHRIS UHLMANN: Would they tell you, necessarily?

DAVID WEISBROT: They have been, yeah. They've been sharing that 
information. I mean, in general terms obviously they're not going to 
give us commercially sensitive information. But they've been quite good 
I think about talking to us about, in general terms, where the 
communication revolution is going and what are some of the issues coming up.

CHRIS UHLMANN: But many of our laws are designed to protect us from the 
state. How can the Law Reform Commission ensure that?

DAVID WEISBROT: The access card will be a big test ground, I think, for 
how well we do this in Australia. The Government at the moment is 
proposing to take, I think, 17 or 18 different databases and merge them 
into the access card. And what will be required there is a certain 
amount of siloing of the information.

So the fact that government holds a lot of information doesn't mean that 
they will be allowed, socially or politically, to data match, or to 
reveal or disclose any of that information. And I guess the design of 
that will be critical to ensuring public confidence.

CHRIS UHLMANN: But again we have to take them at their word. Who is to 
say that they wouldn't allow some holes in those silos for their 
security operations?

DAVID WEISBROT: Ah, that's right, and that's always something that we 
have to keep an eye on.

Interestingly, in the US, where there's been a huge amount of 
controversy over the covert surveillance that's been going on, 
apparently the Government bought a lot of that information from private 
information brokers. Because the government protections were reasonably 
good, they couldn't get their own information, but were able to go out 
on the private market to buy a whole lot of it.

ELEANOR HALL: Australian Law Reform Commissioner, Professor David 
Weisbrot, speaking to Chris Uhlmann.



Bernard Robertson-Dunn
Sydney Australia
brd at iimetro.com.au

Roger Clarke wrote:
> It's marvellous the spin that reporters, and especially subbies, put on 
> Media Releases.  The actual news is:
> ALRC Issues Paper Released:
> http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/other/alrc/publications/issues/31/
> Submissions due by Monday 15 January 2007
> Media Release at:
> http://www.alrc.gov.au/media/2006/mr0910.htm
> Further details at:
> http://www.alrc.gov.au/inquiries/current/privacy/index.htm
> [Ignore the dumb sub-editor's heading on the AAP reprint in the SMH]
> Telemarketers privacy enemy No.1
> The Sydney Morning Herald
> Date: October 9 2006
> http://www.smh.com.au/text/articles/2006/10/08/1160246010753.html
> AUSTRALIANS want their personal, financial and employment details better 
> protected from telemarketing firms, but their health information more 
> freely available to hospitals, a new privacy report reveals.
> The first of three reports scrutinising who can collect private details 
> and how that information is used was released by the Australian Law 
> Reform Commission yesterday.
> "Just by surfing the web, you may reveal vast amounts of personal 
> information, often without your knowledge," said the commission's 
> president, David Weisbrot. "For example, your health, education, credit 
> history and sexual or political orientation."
> He said this information could be matched with information in other 
> databases to create comprehensive profiles of individuals.
> "We want to know how concerned Australians are about this and what they 
> want done about it," he said.
> "We also want to know if tech-savvy young people, who have grown up in a 
> surveillance society, have different views from their parents - for 
> example, they appear to be much more willing to share personal 
> information and photos on the web."
> The paper poses 142 questions about the Privacy Act and privacy issues. 
> Up to 73 per cent of people polled during the first stage of the review 
> said telemarketers were their main concern when protecting their privacy.
> Other prominent issues were the handling of their personal information 
> by private companies and governments, using the internet, and the 
> Federal Government's proposed smartcards, which will integrate more than 
> 25 government-service and concession cards.
> "On the one hand, probably the preponderance of people complained about 
> breaches of privacy, but quite a few people complained about the 
> reverse," Professor Weisbrot said.
> Personal stories ranged from unwanted text messages from companies to 
> not getting access to information. One respondent mentioned overhearing 
> patients' details in a waiting room.
> Credit reporting, workplace privacy and neighbourhood spying rated low 
> as concerns.
> A second paper will be released in December and the final report 
> recommending amendments to the Privacy Act is due in March 2008. Public 
> consultation is under way. The issues paper can be viewed at 
> www.alrc.gov.au.



Bernard Robertson-Dunn
Sydney Australia
brd at iimetro.com.au

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