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Asia Pacific Dashboard Digest | Notes from the Asia-Pacific region, 21 Jan. 2022 Related reading: Notes from the Asia-Pacific region, 14 Jan. 2022



Hello privacy pros.

Happy new year! There is so much in store for privacy in 2022.

An Australian couple ringing in the new year with a trip to Fiji were surprised upon their return to Australia to be required by Border Force officials to surrender their mobile phones and passcodes for inspection. The couple complied but was dismayed at the intrusion with no explanation from officials. The article notes that such a search is indeed permitted under Australia’s Customs Act as part of the government’s “powers to examine people’s belongings at the border.”

For many of us, mobile devices have become our gateway to vast troves of our information (personal and otherwise) via online services: all of our photos and videos, all of our communications, all of our personal and work documents, all of our finances, all of our contacts, all of our passwords. Prospective searches and seizures of such a broad trove of information without any suspicion of wrongdoing is overbroad and unnecessarily intrusive. Phones may contain illicit material, evidence of crime, or may even be instruments of crime themselves.

Unchecked discretion of government agents combined with a lack of transparency over what data is retained and how it will be used highlights a gap in Australia’s approach to human rights and privacy. A more balanced and transparent approach would require, at minimum, constraining the scope of the information searched and collected, providing a finite list of the information’s permitted uses, establishing retention and destruction timeframes, and requiring individuals to be notified of what information has been retained and being given an opportunity to challenge the seizure.

In other news from Australia, the time to respond to the Attorney General’s Department's Privacy Act Review Discussion Paper has now closed. The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner released its submission, which supports global interoperability, and emphasizes the importance of accountability measures and “establishing a positive duty on organisations to handle personal information fairly and reasonably.” The OAIC’s comments are comprehensive, numbering 229 pages. With the Discussion Draft being 217 pages itself, it’s clear this is a robust discussion.

In IAPP news, Australia’s Sydney KnowledgeNet Chapter has arranged a virtual happy hour event on Data Protection Day (aka Data Privacy Day), 28 Jan. Register to spend some time unwinding with your fellow privacy professionals.

Finally, a reminder that the IAPP Vanguard Award nominations are open until 4 Feb., to honor our members who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, knowledge and creativity in privacy and data protection. Awards will made to one IAPP member in each of five geographical regions: EMEA, Asia, Oceania, North America and Latin America.

Until next time!


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