Online privacy is a common concern among Aussies these days. Let’s have a look what is privacy and why your online privacy is important for you.
Privacy is a balancing act; a certain level of personal information is often given by the individual to companies or to the government as it is a necessary part of the flow of information and transactional relationship in private and public relationships.
Consider the information you put in when you sign up for a social media site, or share with agencies such as Centrelink. It is not the sharing of the information that is inherently the issue, but the protection of this information.
If private information is not protected adequately, or is misused, it can cause great pain and suffering.
These breaches of privacy, particularly in the age in which enormous volumes of personal information are held as data by large multi-national companies, are becoming increasingly salient.
Cambridge Analytica data scandal
Consider the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which up to 87 million users may have had their privacy breached, including up to 300,000 Australians.
What is most concerning about the Cambridge Analytica scandal is that the data of these users was mined through a third party app, which many people unconsciously accepted the terms and conditions of.
Academics call this notion bundled consent: that in agreeing to use a platform, often users provide their tacit consent for other uses of their data, even when they are not aware of what they are consenting to.
In all Australian jurisdictions there exists no constitutional nor common law right to privacy, and at common law there is no recourse available for the average citizen who has had their privacy breached.
The majority of Privacy regulation in Australia falls under the scope of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth), however most people may be surprised by the lack of ambit this act has in terms of their own protection
Online Privacy when using EU based platforms
If you are using online platforms which are based in, or have presence in the EU you may be glad to know that the new laws for online privacy protection are being looked upon.
The recently passed General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is one of the most comprehensive data protection regimes, which has prompted many companies to change their data management regulations to better protect users.
Getting Recourse for an Online Privacy Breach
In terms of getting recourse for a breach, however, Australians cannot bring a tort of breach of privacy. The threshold for proving a breach of the privacy act statutorily is difficult giving the large number of exceptions outlined in the Australian Privacy Principles.
What can you do to protect your online confidentiality?
Most companies and entities have a range of data protection principles that they follow to be in line with Australian law and regulations.
What one should consider, however, is the risk of having difficulty in getting recourse, if their data is breached or their personal information stolen.
Effective online personal protection principles should apply; changing passwords regularly, changing settings from public to friends and family only on social media platforms, checking that information is being submitted to a genuine and secure website, and of course applying common sense.
If your privacy has been invaded or someone has misused your private data, we are here to help!
For our legal support services Contact us at (02) 6295 2283
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