Home Government Tech Policy Senate backs Greens motion for privacy laws based on GDPR

Senate backs Greens motion for privacy laws based on GDPR

Greens digital spokesperson Jordon Steele-John. Greens digital spokesperson Jordon Steele-John. Supplied

The Australian Senate has reversed its position and backed a motion by the Greens calling for the adoption of more stringent privacy protections in line with the EU's General Data Protection Regulation, acknowledging that it is world's best practice.

The EU legalisation is scheduled to take effect on 25 May and companies and institutions around the world are scrambling to be compliant with its stipulations.

Greens privacy spokesman Senator Jordon Steele-John said in a statement that the fact that privacy protections needed to be beefed up online was evidenced by the recent scandal over the leaking of Facebook data to the analytics firm Cambridge Analytica. The firm has now closed down but is believed to be operating under a different name.

Steele-John said: “Our privacy laws are woefully inadequate and the argument that Australians don’t care and are agreeing to sign away their privacy simply by engaging in online interactions is simply not good enough!"

He said under existing laws, government surveillance, and the rise of "surveillance capitalism", young people may have to always live under the shadow of surveillance and communications interference and never have the chance to exercise their rights to privacy.

“In March, the Senate opposed my motion calling for amendments to the Privacy Act 1988 to ensure individuals have rights of access, erasure and transfer of their personal data online," Steele-John said.

“I am heartened that the Senate has now back-flipped on their earlier position and supported, in principle, a move towards the European standard of online privacy protection and current world best practice.

“There is need for urgent review of privacy regulations in Australia, including the collection, storage, and use of personal information by government, corporations and other entities particularly with respect to its impact on the integrity of our democracy.”

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

 

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