Privacy Law Changes
Whilst organisations and government departments are the ones who have to ensure that they are complying with privacy laws, recent changes to privacy laws, which came into effect on 12 March this year, directly affect you.
The Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (Privacy Act) is the piece of legislation that regulates how your personal information is handled. Personal information is broadly defined by the Privacy Act as information or an opinion about an identifiable individual. Such information can be highly sensitive and include information relating to your health, repayment history and tax file number.
Generally speaking, the recent amendments to the Privacy Act give you more say. For example, following the amendments, your personal information cannot be used by organisations or agencies for direct marketing purposes without your consent. If it is, then the amendments provide that you must be given the right to ‘opt-out’ of the given marketing regime.
The changes also provide that if your personal information is being held by an organisation or agency, that organisation or agency must, on your request, give you access to that information and, if necessary, give you the opportunity to correct or change it.
While all these changes may sound to be in your favour, other changes to the Privacy Act, namely those associated with credit providers dealing with your information, may not be so regarded. The 2014 amendments bolster credit reporting. Amongst other types of personal information now permitted to be held in the credit reporting system, under the amendments, your repayment history information is able to be collected by credit reporting agencies and passed on to banks, telecommunication companies and utilities organisations. This means that one missed or late payment could see you with a black mark against your name, potentially hindering any future efforts you may make to obtain credit.
Before you get anxious about the security of your credit history information, keep in mind that the credit reporting changes implemented by the 2014 amendments are accompanied by enhanced privacy protections and changes that give you greater access to your personal information and the right to correct such information if necessary.