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Australia proposes privacy tort

Data deletion rules also floated

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The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has released a discussion paper that canvasses the idea of a tort of privacy invasion for Australians.

Available here, the discussion paper is seeking comment on whether or not Australia's privacy law needs to be changed to deal with invasions of privacy “committed intentionally or recklessly with no countervailing justification or defence”.

It's part of a long ongoing inquiry that began back in June 2013, with the new 200-plus-page paper serving as a supplement to an issues paper released in October 2013. Submissions are solicited here.

Along with floating the idea that serious invasion of privacy should create a civil tort, the discussion paper also sets down the possibility that a new Australian Privacy Principle could be created, allowing individuals to request deletion of data.

The ALRC is also seeking comment as to whether a formal take-down mechanism should apply to Websites or online services, where publication of information is “a serious invasion of privacy”.

This would apply only to organisations already subject to the Australian Privacy Principles – that is, entities turning over more than $AU3 million – and would be backed by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner's power to impose fines for breaches.

The discussion paper has been seized on by the Australian Financial Review as a crimp on Google Glass users, since the ALRC has also recommended that recording individuals without their consent be a criminal offence. ®

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