ACMA sets the bar too low for broadcasters claims APF

Australian Privacy Foundation calls for a regulator with a backbone

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has been slammed as a toothless tiger for setting the bar too low in protecting consumer privacy.

The Australian Privacy Foundation claims that the regulator has “dropped the ball twice in one week”, firstly in its restrained wrath in dealing with Vodafone and in its revised Guidelines for Broadcasters.

Earlier in the week ACMA found that Vodafone had breached public expectations in relation to the protection of its customers' personal data, but only issued the carrier with a warning.

ACMA’s freshly released Guidelines for Broadcasters, due for public release today, have been panned by the APF as being so lax that “media organisations will remain free to behave basically as they do now.”

"ACMA is giving carte blanche to broadcasters to be as objectionable as they like in the pursuit of news, and to publish personal data that is unnecessary to the story, and that may cause the individuals concerned substantial offence or distress," Chair of the Australian Privacy Foundation, Roger Clarke said.

The APF claims that the revised Guidelines will only deem an act as a privacy intrusion unless it is "highly offensive" to "an ordinary person of reasonable sensibilities".

"Unless the media's actions are completely beyond the pale, ACMA won't even issue a warning, let alone take any actual protective action", Clarke said. The APF has called for ACMA to define far higher privacy standards in the broadcasting arena.

“Unless it does so, the responsibility must be vested instead in an organisation that has a commitment to achieving appropriate balances between public and private interests,” Clarke warned. ®

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