Australia is definitely not sleepwalking into a surveillance society. The editorials in both The Australian and the Australian Financial Review are providing opinions on the current debate on proposed new laws about retention of metadata. Interest in privacy has reached new levels with such attention from the mainstream media. Along with the various criticisms of policies and laws being suggested by people who cannot define the concepts comes some good public debate and education about how information is being used by organisations and, in fact, what metadata is, which may be useful for some. There has been so much confusion on the topic that our communications minister has just come out and claimed that we are on a journey of consultation about the subject in an attempt to diffuse the heat. Looking forward to hearing about the final destination.
The Law Reform Commission in Victoria has begun an investigation in respect of landlords taking pictures of tenants’ property when advertising their residences, and with impeccable timing, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has released a series of five animated videos on the OAIC’s YouTube channel. One of these addresses this topic as well as a number of other very common consumer issues. It's been a busy week at the Office of the Privacy Commissioner as it has also just opened a consultation on a revised Guide to Information Security. The revised guide takes account of changes under privacy law reform as well as their learning and experience in information security matters since the first release of the guide in April 2013. The consultation ends on 27 August.
It’s almost six months since the new regime came into play, and the Australian National Audit Office has proposed that examination of government entities' compliance with the new Australian Privacy Principles may be considered for an audit. They would be examining systems in place to protect personal data privacy, focusing on the adequacy of policies, procedures and the administrative frameworks and systems used to disseminate data.
On a lighter note, see our story below on Chris Hoofnagle’s exploration of the privacy paradox, the difference between what we espouse about our privacy and how we act counter to this. In the discussion, he makes it clear that simply leaving your favorite social media site is unlikely to be an option, unless you can also persuade all your friends to do so. And if you think that is appealing, you will like the story about Bubblews, a site enabling users to make money for sharing their thoughts online.
In a case of life imitating art, Noah Dyer is trying to raise $300,000 to live for a year without privacy—much like Mae Holland in the Dave Eggers’ novel The Circle. And as it’s almost the weekend, when your mind may turn to the arts, you will be delighted to find that privacy features there, too. The Guardian provides insights into some of the latest plays and literature that are centered on privacy. Seems privacy really is becoming a part of how we live, work and play.
Enjoy the weekend, and if you are lucky enough to be in Queensland, enjoy The Ekka Holiday. (Note to Southerners: That is Queensland slang for the Royal Queensland Show.)
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