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. These may include, in no particular order or hierarchy:
freedom of speech, including the freedom of the media and the implied constitutional freedom of political communication;
freedom of artistic and creative expression and innovation in the digital era;
the public’s right to be informed on matters of public importance, in real time rather than after delay;
public access to information and accurate historical records;
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;
the effective delivery of essential and emergency services in the community;
the protection of vulnerable persons in the community;
the right to be free from violence, including family violence;
national economic development and participation in the global digital economy;
the social and economic value of analysing ‘big data’;
the free flow of information and the right of business to achieve its objectives efficiently; and
the value of individuals being enabled to engage in digital communications and electronic financial and commercial transactions.
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.
Australian Human Rights Commission, Submission 75; SBS, Submission 59; Google, Submission 54; ASTRA, Submission 47; Law Institute of Victoria, Submission 22; Office of the Information Commissioner, Queensland, Submission 20.
In Attorney-General (SA) v Corporation of the City of Adelaide  HCA 3 (27 February 2013) French CJ summarises the ways in which freedom of speech as a value underpins much of Australian common law and statute law.
RSPCA, Submission 49. The RSPCA submission referred to ABC v Lenah Game Meats, where Kirby J suggests that courts should give a wider interpretation to the matters falling within the implied freedom: Australian Broadcasting Corporation v Lenah Game Meats Pty Ltd (2001) 208 CLR 199, 286–287.
Facebook, Submission 65.
ASTRA, Submission 47.
Arts Law Centre of Australia, Submission 43; Australian Institute of Professional Photography, Submission 31; Public Interest Advocacy Centre, Submission 30. It should be noted that some limitations on public access to historical records already exist. For example, the National Archives of Australia is authorised to withhold information from public access if the release of that information would unreasonably disclose information relating to the personal affairs of an individual: Archives Act 1983 (Cth) s 33(1)(g).
In 2012–2013, information obtained under communications interception or stored communications warrants was used in 3,083 arrests, 6,898 prosecutions and 2,765 convictions: Attorney-General’s Department, Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979: Annual Report 2012–2013 (2013) 4. See also Australian Federal Police, Submission 67; Google, Submission 54; CV Check, Submission 23; Insurance Council of Australia, Submission 15.
Australian Communications and Media Authority, Submission 52.
Women’s Legal Services NSW, Submission 115; Women’s Legal Service Victoria and Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria, Submission 48.
Google, Submission 54; Telstra, Submission 45; Optus, Submission 41; Australian Bankers’ Association, Submission 27.
See, eg, Malcolm Turnbull MP, ‘National Archives Conference Address—Open for Business in the Digital Economy’ (2 June 2014).
Australian Bankers’ Association, Submission 27.
CV Check, Submission 23.
Public Interest Advocacy Centre, Submission 30.