Principle 3: Privacy should be balanced with other important interests

2.22 The privacy of an individual is not an absolute value or right that necessarily takes precedence over other values of public interest. As many stakeholders noted, it must be balanced with a range of other important values, freedoms and matters of public interest.[32] These may include, in no particular order or hierarchy:

  • freedom of speech,[33] including the freedom of the media and the implied constitutional freedom of political communication;[34]

  • freedom of artistic and creative expression and innovation in the digital era;[35]

  • the public’s right to be informed on matters of public importance, in real time rather than after delay;[36]

  • public access to information and accurate historical records;[37]

  • the proper administration of government and matters affecting the public or members of the public;

  • the promotion of open justice;

  • national security and safety;

  • the prevention and detection of criminal and fraudulent activity and the apprehension of criminals;[38]

  • the effective delivery of essential and emergency services in the community;[39]

  • the protection of vulnerable persons in the community;

  • the right to be free from violence, including family violence;[40]

  • national economic development and participation in the global digital economy;[41]

  • the social and economic value of analysing ‘big data’;[42]

  • the free flow of information and the right of business to achieve its objectives efficiently;[43] and

  • the value of individuals being enabled to engage in digital communications and electronic financial and commercial transactions.[44]

2.23 The importance of balancing privacy with other important public interests underpins all the recommendations in this Report. The ALRC does, however, recognise that privacy should not be casually ‘traded off’ for the sake of other important interests.[45]