NSW mulls privacy invasion laws

Revenge porn and data leaks both in lawmakers' sights

New South Wales is set to become the first state in Australia to give citizens the right to launch legal action over serious privacy invasions.

The state's planned legislation is in response to this report (PDF) from the NSW Upper House Law and Justice Committee.

In its media release, the committee says it found “the existing statutory and common law framework, including the equitable action of breach of confidence, did not provide adequate remedies for serious invasions of privacy, particularly to people who are victims of the distribution (or threatened distribution) of intimate images without the subject’s consent, commonly referred to as ‘revenge pornography’.”

The proposed legislation should be based on the Australian Law Reform Commission's 2014 Serious Invasions of Privacy in the Digital Era report.

Remedies proposed by the committee include:

  • A cause of action for serious invasions of privacy committed either recklessly or intentionally; and
  • Possibly giving local court magistrates the power to make orders preventing “revenge porn” posts in family violence cases.

Individuals would also be able to sue companies and government agencies for reckless or intentional data releases.

Other recommendations in the report include training police in responding to Internet stalking and serious abuse; and giving the NSW Privacy Commissioner better powers in the case of serious invasions of privacy (including the ability to issue take-down orders for stuff like revenge porn). ®

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