2.16 The privacy of an individual is not an absolute value or right which necessarily takes precedence over other values of public interest. As stakeholders noted, it must be balanced with a range of other important values, freedoms and matters of public interest, including, in no particular order or hierarchy:
freedom of artistic and creative expression and innovation in the digital era;
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;
national economic development and participation in the global digital economy; and
the value of individuals being enabled to engage in digital communications and electronic financial and commercial transactions.
2.17 This list is not an exhaustive list of public interest matters. Some stakeholders emphasised the need for a holistic approach to the balancing of interests in particular circumstances, while others stressed the need for the balancing process to consider the degree to which any interference with one interest was necessary and proportionate to the protection of the other. This latter concept is stressed in privacy litigation in the United Kingdom since the introduction of the Human Rights Act 1998 (UK), and is also relied upon in European case law dealing with the European Convention on Human Rights.
2.18 There was widespread support among stakeholders for the articulation of this principle, and no stakeholders submitted that privacy should be regarded as an absolute right. Stakeholders suggested the following additions to the above list:
the need for transparency in government, corporate and organisational dealings or operations that affect individuals; and
the desirability of Australian businesses being able to compete in the global economy and to encourage innovation and business in Australia.
In Attorney-General (SA) v Corporation of the City of Adelaide  HCA 3 (27 February 2013) French CJ sets out a useful summary of 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 than they have done to date on 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.
For example, 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. Other submissions referring to the importance of detecting criminal or fraudulent activity included 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.
Australian Bankers’ Association, Submission 27.
CV Check, Submission 23.
Electronic Frontiers Australia, Submission 714; B Arnold, Submission 28.
European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, opened for signature 4 November 1950, 213 UNTS 221 (entered into force 3 September 1953).
Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association, 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, under s 33(1)(g) of the Archives Act 1983 (Cth) 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.
Pirate Party of Australia, Submission 18.
Google, Submission 54; Telstra, Submission 45; Optus, Submission 41.