The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) today released a Discussion Paper, Serious Invasions of Privacy in the Digital Era (DP 80, 2014). The Terms of Reference for this Inquiry ask the ALRC to consider the detailed legal design of a statutory cause of action and, in addition, other innovative ways the law might prevent or redress serious invasions of privacy.
The ALRC is seeking feedback from the community on 47 proposals for reform outlined in the Discussion Paper including a new Commonwealth Act that would provide for a statutory cause of action for serious invasions of privacy.
ALRC Commissioner for the Inquiry, Professor Barbara McDonald, said “Privacy is fundamental to enabling individuals to live dignified, fulfilling, safe and autonomous lives. It underpins many other freedoms of the individual, but it is a right that must be balanced with other fundamental values such as freedom of expression and with other aspects of modern society from which we all benefit. The design of a new cause of action reflects the balancing of these competing interests in carving out a level of protection of privacy that would see Australia meet its commitment to international norms/standards.
New technologies are constantly adding new ways to collect and use information about people’s activities, and to intrude into someone’s private life, challenging the usefulness of some existing laws. The ALRC proposals reflect the need to provide people across all of Australia with the same level of protection for their privacy and competing freedoms.”
The ALRC invites individuals and organisations to make submissions in response to the proposals contained in the Discussion Paper, or to any of the research, argument and analysis provided. This community input will help inform the development of final recommendations for reform that will be contained in our Final Report, due to be delivered to the Attorney-General by 30 June 2014.
The Discussion Paper is available free of charge from the ALRC website www.alrc.gov.au/publications/serious-invasions-privacy-dp-80 and is also available as an ebook. The ALRC prefers submissions via the ALRC online submission form: www.alrc.gov.au/content/privacy-subs-DP80. Written submissions can be posted to the Executive Director, ALRC, GPO Box 3708, Sydney NSW 2001 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Closing date for submissions is Monday 12 May 2014. Due to the very tight timeframe late submissions cannot be accepted.
For more information about the ALRC Inquiry, go to www.alrc.gov.au/inquiries/invasions-privacy. To keep up to date with the Inquiry, subscribe to the Inquiry enews or follow #PrivRev or @AusLawReform on Twitter.