Privacy in Australia is back on the agenda again with the Australian Law Reform Commission's (ALRC) recent inquiry into Serious Invasions of Privacy in the Digital Era. ACCAN's submission to the inquiry focuses on when consumers have a 'reasonable expectation of privacy'. We support the proposed introduction of a new Australian Privacy Principle (APP) which would give consumers the ability to request the destruction or de-identification of their personal information.

The ALRC discussion paper recommended the introduction of a new tort, or civil wrong, for serious invasions of privacy. One of the elements of the tort proposed is that the plaintiff had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the circumstances, a calculation which includes determining consent. ACCAN's submission highlighted how the quality of 'consent' in today's commercial environment is a contentious issue: consumers often don't read privacy policies that they are signing and if they do, might not understand them. Accordingly, ACCAN suggested that the focus should be on 'informed consent', such that consumers know what they are agreeing to.

A new APP, adding to the existing 12 which define Australian companies' privacy conduct, was also proposed in the ALRC discussion paper. ACCAN supports the introduction of the new APP, empowering consumers to ask that personal information they provide to companies be de-identified or destroyed. It is closely aligned with the 'Right to choose', one of the eight consumer rights which ACCAN advocates for in its daily operations. That said, our submission also highlighted issues around who might fund this program and, if asked, the need for companies to take reasonable steps to have third parties with which they share personal information destroy or de-identify it, too.

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