OAIC Receives Minor Resourcing Boost: Good Start But Not Enough

Article written by John Pane, privacy expert and EFA board member.

EFA welcomes action on privacy with news that Australia will once again have a dedicated Privacy Commissioner.

This is nice but we are far from satisfied.

While progress is welcome, much more needs to be done, and quickly. A single person, however skilled, cannot hope to protect Australians’ privacy all on their own. We have already waited far too long for substantial action on privacy.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has been suffering from deep structural and executive resourcing flaws since 2015 when the Abbott and Morrison governments determined the current Privacy Commissioner and Information Commissioner functions to be undertaken by one person.  This was accompanied by a significant reduction in funding to the OAIC’s operations in general.

On Tuesday, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus announced that the government would immediately begin looking for a new privacy commissioner with the current Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner, Angelene Falk, retaining her role as Information Commissioner.

While this is welcomed news and a step forward in the right direction, it does nothing to resolve the longstanding and systemic resourcing and funding problem suffered by the Privacy Commissioner’s office. 

In order for the Privacy Commissioner’s office to become the efficient and effective regulator Australia so desperately needs, it needs more hands on deck to speed up an excruciatingly slow complaints resolution process, better educate the public and private sectors, and provide them with enhanced compliance guidance and tools.

Hopefully the Attorney General’s response to the Privacy Act Review Report will resolve these issues. Electronic Frontiers Australia made an extensive submission to the Report but at time of writing the Attorney General’s office has not published any feedback.

For more details read this article.

A dedicated Privacy Commissioner is not a substitute for better privacy laws.

By joining or donating to EFA, you can be part of the solution. Together, we can advocate for collective rights of action while ensuring the Privacy Commissioner’s office has the resources it needs to develop and promote privacy protections for all Australians.

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