Senate Committee releases privacy reform report

The Senate Committee has released a report on the proposed privacy reform laws. This follows the recent passage of the legislation through the House of Representatives.

The legislation, which allows for the reporting of additional information on consumer credit files, will make it easier and fairer for Australians to access credit, as well as help lenders better assess credit risk of their applicants.

The committee's report examines some of the key issues around privacy principles and credit reporting amendments, such as concerns over the use of personal information and the inclusion of a history of repayments made on-time and late. The report also examines issues around the powers and functions of the Privacy Commissioner.

According to the report, the privacy principles represent an important milestone in the reform of privacy laws; however, some recommendations were made to address the issues around the legislation.

The recommendations include:

  • Clarification of certain privacy terms;
  • Further explanation of the scope of the privacy laws;
  • Further explanation of the intended application of a number of sections;
  • Revision of the Attorney-General's Explanatory Memorandum;
  • Making public the information about privacy changes for consumers, government agencies and private businesses;
  • Ability to let consumers opt-out of direct marketing communications as a result of increased credit reporting information recorded on their credit files; and
  • Allowing enough time (such as 14 days) to have elapsed from the date of a written notice before a default listing can occur.

The committee recommends the Senate pass the privacy bill, subject to its recommendations.

The report can be accessed at the Senate website.

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