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This week’s APAC Digest traverses a range of privacy hot topics in Australia and India. Here’s the news in 60 seconds:  

In Australia, eCommerce retailers Showpo and Black Swallow have settled their data breach dispute, after Showpo alleged one of its former graphic designers downloaded the company's customer database and passed it on to her new employer, Black Swallow. Black Swallow has been ordered to pay $60,000 to Showpo and both parties are to pay their own legal costs.

Australia’s mandatory data retention laws are now fully operational, with telcos given until April 13 this year to have their metadata collection systems in place. Some say that the laws are anti-competitive. Because the legislation failed to take into account the activities of tech companies that have built their models on data harvesting, focusing instead on the local telcos, smaller companies are at a distinct disadvantage. The federal government is scheduled to review the data retention scheme in 2019.

Also in Australia, a free Wi-Fi service on Sydney public transport has raised privacy concerns. The free Wi-Fi service is part of a pilot offered on 50 buses around Sydney and is being provided by Catch Wi-Fi, a subsidiary of advertising and billboard giant APN Outdoor. Critics say it’s big brother on buses because “[the] terms and conditions state by connecting to it they may collect your ‘name, address, date of birth, location details, drivers licence details, photographs, videos, credit card details, employer and other details’ and sell them to other businesses.” Comparisons have been made with a similar offering in Victoria providing public Wi-Fi without capturing personal information.

Centrelink's debt data-matching failed government's privacy guidelines, according to the Australian Privacy Foundation, appearing on Wednesday at the Senate inquiry into the “robo debt” debacle. Privacy campaigners say Centrelink’s use of data-matching to detect potential welfare debts has failed to meet the government’s own privacy guidelines. The APF says there was no evidence that Centrelink had complied with obligations of those guidelines.

Meanwhile, the Australian Tax office has assured its 19,000 public servants that their sensitive employment data will no longer be shared with external private sector polling companies. The ATO covertly supplied its contractor with the names, email addresses, locations of work and pay grades of each of its 19,000 employees without their knowledge or consent. And also in the public service, the NSW privacy commissioner has called for an investigation after 2,693 photo ID cards, including gun licenses, were mistakenly sent to the wrong people by Service NSW in a "significant" security breach.

And in India…

India’s Attorney General told a Constitution Bench that the government is mulling over the introduction of a framework for data protection that would curb sharing of individual data on social networking sites and online messaging services. The court directed that the next hearing will take place on April 27, after Diwali.

Indian students have rallied against the use of CCTVs in hostels, claiming that they are an invasion of privacy. However, the view among students is divided, with others countering that they enhance the security of students in public areas, particularly for females, and prevent theft. While there is no official directive for hostels to install CCTV cameras on their premises, most colleges have them for security reasons.

I hope you enjoy this week’s APAC Digest.

Melanie Marks
iappANZ Board Director


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