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Three themes this week: transparency, creepiness and testing the veracity of the old Norwegian saying that the “Fish rots from the head down.”

Starting with this top down problem, it has been an awkward week in Canberra. The Department for Parliamentary Services appears to have breached the Australian Privacy Principles and released personal information of former prime ministers and MPs. Apparently Julia Gillard, John Howard, and Paul Keating were among those affected. Google has been called to the rescue to delete cached documents containing the phone numbers that were still publicly available, Fairfax reported. So that’s all fine then. Meanwhile Australians trust the government with their most sensitive health and financial information every day.

Victoria also had difficulties this week as the ongoing stoush between the premier and the Victorian Privacy Commissioner continued. David Watts formally accused the state’s premier of hiding behind his powers to dodge allegations that his office committed a serious privacy breach and said the government’s response to his review was “evasive, non-cooperative and misleading. … When the only response to the initiative is an attempt to avoid scrutiny, this gives an appearance of wrongdoing,” he wrote. The Andrews government is on the cusp of passing legislation that would effectively undercut Watts’ existing powers and statutory independence. What a surprise.

The Transparency International Australia National Integrity 2017 conference in Brisbane last week called for improvements in integrity in the public and corporate sectors. Hard to disagree. It does present privacy practitioners with a conundrum – open data and open government are fine principles, but only if those in charge take great care with the privacy and security protocols.

Meanwhile in NZ, customs' chief executive will be handed "unprecedented" power to share New Zealanders' personal information under a law change that is totally unnecessary, the privacy commissioner has warned.

John Edwards strongly criticised the proposed powers when discussing legislation that will overhaul the laws covering the Customs Service."… It is an unnecessarily extensive power and constitutes a disproportionate erosion of privacy rights to have such a wide power given to the executive."

The comment by the Social Development Minister Anne Tolley also raised a few eyebrows as she carved out exemptions for collection of information in sexual violence services because she wanted “to make sure we get this right.” Hold on, what does that say about collection processes for other groups?

Finally, for helicopter parents who wish to see their kids and interact with teachers while they are at school there is ClassDojo, a new app used by Kormilda College. It’s free, but all data is owned by the free software's developers, and if you don’t pay for it…


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