Principle 4: Australian privacy laws should meet international standards

2.24 The protection of individual privacy in Australia should be consistent with Australia’s international obligations.[46] These include Australia’s obligations under the ICCPR[47] and policies of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.[48] It should also take into account, as far as appropriate, international standards and legal developments in the protection of privacy.[49] Human rights frameworks in Victoria and the ACT make specific reference to a person’s right to privacy.[50]

2.25 Throughout this Report, reference is made to developments in the legal protection of privacy in other jurisdictions—particularly those with which Australia shares a common legal heritage. However, the ALRC recognises that every jurisdiction’s development of the law on privacy will depend on its constitutional framework, particularly its guarantees or protections of relevant interests or rights.[51] The need for statutory reform in a particular jurisdiction also depends on developments in the common law.

2.26 Women’s rights organisations highlighted the relevance of the International Covenant on the Elimination of All Forms of Violence Against Women (CEDAW)[52] to a new privacy tort. The disclosure of sexually explicit images of people without their consent by current or former intimate partners—‘revenge pornography’—is one type of violence against women raised by several stakeholders.[53]

2.27 The Arts Law Centre of Australia said Indigenous culture and intellectual property should be recognised in the guiding principles:

Any law protecting the privacy of individuals should also consider the confidential or culturally sensitive nature of cultural knowledge, stories, images of Indigenous Australians.[54]

2.28 Some stakeholders noted the value in constructing privacy law which is consistent with best practice in international standards, particularly in the area of data protection.[55]

2.29 International law recognises the importance of other rights and interests, such as freedom of speech. As noted in Principle 3, privacy must often be balanced with these other important rights and interests.