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Mandatory data breach laws back on Australian agenda

Financial System Inquiry report wants 'em to stop banks hiding boo-boos

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Australia's on-again, off-again debate about data breach notification laws is on again, courtesy of a report into financial system regulation, at least until the government cans the idea (again).

Register readers will recall that a Privacy Alerts bill was proposed by the previous government before the 2013 election, then delayed, re-introduced in March, and abandoned in June by the current government.

Now, the federal government's Financial System Inquiry has issued an interim report (PDF) that recommends the government re-examine the issue.

As the report states “Access to growing amounts of customer information and new ways of using it have the potential to improve efficiency and competition, and present opportunities to empower consumers. However, evidence indicates these trends heighten privacy and data security risks”.

To cover these risks, the report unequivocally backs “mandatory data breach notifications to affected individuals and the Australian Government agency with relevant responsibility under privacy laws”.

At the same time, the report seems to take issue with current attitudes to cloud computing – particularly in relation to offshore storage of Australian data. The Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority, it says, should be advised of “continuing industry support for a principles-based approach to setting cloud computing requirements”, and the government should review record keeping rules that currently inhibit “cross-border information flows”.

Digital identities are also highlighted in the report, with the government urged to pursue “a national strategy for promoting trusted digital identities”.

The FSI is seeking comment on the interim report until 26 August 2014, and has until November 2014 to issue its final report. ®

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