Other forms of privacy regulation

Legislative rules and codes

2.89 Legislation other than the Privacy Act allows for the development of privacy codes or rules.[160] For example, s 112 of the Telecommunications Act enables bodies and associations in the telecommunications industry to develop industry codes relating to telecommunications activities. In 2000, the Australian Communications Industry Forum (now Communications Alliance Ltd) released an industry code on calling number display (CND).[161] The Code requires suppliers to provide privacy protections in the supply of calling line identification (CLI) and CND; ensures that suppliers adopt procedures to allow callers to freely enable or block CND to the called party; require suppliers to inform their customers about CLI and CND and the privacy implications of both, and how customers can utilise CND blocking features.[162]

2.90 Another example is codes developed pursuant to s 123 of the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 (Cth). Under this provision, the industry group responsible for representing various radio and television licensees (that is, commercial, subscription and community broadcasters) must develop a code of practice applicable to that section of the broadcasting industry. Privacy provisions are included in the various broadcasting codes of practice developed by representative industry bodies. In the commercial broadcasting and subscription broadcasting sectors, the privacy provisions relate to news and current affairs programs. In the case of the community broadcasting sector, the privacy provisions relate to all programs. For example, Code of Practice 2 of the Commercial Radio Australia Codes of Practice & Guidelines provides that news programs (including news flashes) broadcast by a licensee must not use material relating to a person’s personal or private affairs, or which invades an individual’s privacy, unless there is a public interest in broadcasting such information.[163]

2.91 As noted above, a number of state and territory privacy laws provide for the making of codes that may derogate from the privacy principles in the primary legislation. The Attorney General of NSW has approved a number of privacy codes of practice that modify the application of the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW). For example, the Privacy Code of Practice for Local Government has the effect of modifying the application of Part 6 of the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW) (the ‘public register’ provisions) and the application of the 12 Information Protection Principles as they apply to local government.[164]

Non-legislative guidance

2.92 In addition to legislative protection of personal information, organisations will often develop and publish privacy guidance that is not required by legislation.[165] For example, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care is developing a National Patient Charter of Rights.[166] The Charter will include a set of principles, including a principle dealing with privacy, which is intended to provide a consistent basis for the development of specific jurisdictional, disease and health service charters.[167]

2.93 In addition, the private sector provisions of the Privacy Act exempt from its ambit acts by media organisations in the course of journalism when the organisation is publicly committed to observing a set of privacy standards.[168] The Australian Press Council (APC) has developed a set of eight privacy standards to regulate the handling of personal information.[169] The Standards relate to the collection, use and disclosure of personal information; quality and security of personal information; anonymity of sources; correction, fairness and balance of media reports; sensitive personal information; and complaint handling. The APC receives and deals with complaints in relation to the Standards.

[160] For other examples of legislative codes and binding guidelines see Ch 17.

[161] The Code has been revised a number of times, most recently in 2007: Australian Communications Industry Forum, Industry Code—Calling Number Display, ACIF C522 (2007).

[162] Australian Communications Industry Forum, Industry Code—Calling Number Display, ACIF C522 (2007).

[163] Commercial Radio Australia, Codes of Practice & Guidelines (2004), 2.1(d).

[164] See, eg, Privacy NSW, Privacy Codes of Practice <www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lawlink/privacynsw/ll
_pnsw.nsf/pages/PNSW_03_ppipcodes> at 1 May 2008.

[165] For other examples of non-legislative codes and guidelines see Ch 17.

[166] Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare, Draft National Patient Charter of Rights (2008). The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare conducted public consultations on this draft in early 2008, and expects to release a finalised Charter in July 2008.

[167] Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare, Draft National Patient Charter of Rights (2008), 2.

[168]Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) s 7B(4).

[169] Australian Press Council, Privacy Standards <www.presscouncil.org.au> at 1 May 2008. The Standards adopt the Privacy Act definition of ‘personal information’ and are discussed in more detail in Ch 42.