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Privacy laws in Australia have changed, and it's important for organisations and consumers to be aware of what this means for them.

The Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012 came into effect on 12 March, 2014. Businesses and organisations with an annual turnover of at least $3 million will have to comply with 13 new Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) which replace the National Privacy Principles and Information Privacy Principles.

As part of the privacy law changes, the new principles dictate how personal information is to be collected, handled, stored and used. They will require businesses and organisations to inform individuals before information is collected.

It’s important that clear and up-to-date privacy policies be in place and made transparent.

What do the privacy law changes mean?

  • Personal information must not be used for direct marketing purpose without consent, and consumers must be given the right to 'opt-out'.
  • Individuals whose personal information is collected have the right to know what information is held and the right to change or correct that information if necessary.
  • Privacy Complaints Procedures must be in place to allow individuals to complain if necessary about the collection, storage or use of their personal information.
  • Business who do not comply with the new privacy laws faces fines up to $1.7 million.

Credit reporting changes

Credit reporting changes have also been introduced as part of privacy law changes. Repayment histories will now be able to be collected by credit reporting agencies and passed on to banks, utilities companies and telcos.

Consumers who miss or are late paying bills could end up with a black mark next to their names and have problem obtaining future credit.

The full list of the Australian Privacy Principles, including information about the changes to credit reporting can be found at the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

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