Privacy and information security

AGS lawyers have been advising Commonwealth agencies on the important privacy reforms made to the Privacy Act 1988 by the Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012. These amendments will come into effect on 12 March 2014.

We advised the Attorney-General's Department (AGD) on aspects of the development of the Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Bill 2012, which introduced the Government's first-stage response to the Australian Law Reform Commission's (ALRC) 2008 report For your Information: Australian privacy law and practice. We also advised AGD on aspects of the development of the
Privacy Amendment (Privacy Alerts) Bill 2013, relating to mandatory data-breach notification, which forms part of the Government's second-stage response to the ALRC report.

In the first half of 2013, AGS held Government Law Group seminars in Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth about privacy reforms that will commence operation in early 2014. The speakers were Elena Arduca (Senior Executive Lawyer), Louise Buchanan (Senior Lawyer), Justin Davidson (Senior Executive Lawyer), Allyson Ladhams (Lawyer), Jane Lye (Senior Executive Lawyer), Tara McNeilly (Senior General Counsel) and Natalia Milutinovic (Lawyer).

The presenters outlined the key changes made by the privacy reforms, identified and discussed some of the areas likely to impact on current agency operations and made suggestions about what agencies will need to do (and when) to get ready for the reforms. The seminars focused on the coverage and practical effect of some of the new Australian Privacy Principles, which will replace the current Information Privacy Principles and National Privacy Principles. They also summarised some
of the new powers that have been given to the Australian Information Commissioner and identified
3 stages of preparation work for agencies, outlining the issues to be considered in each stage and
suggesting approaches to the tasks that will need to be undertaken in each stage.

We prepared a range of fact sheets and other publications on the privacy reforms, which are available on our website. We also prepared detailed training courses about the reforms, offered as part of our client training packages. In addition to these services, we are advising a broad range
of agencies on the implications of the reforms on their day-to-day business and assisting with preparation of updated documents to be rolled out when the reforms commence.

In addition to our significant tranche of work on the privacy reforms, AGS lawyers have worked closely with agencies to assess the privacy implications of significant projects and assist with the successful delivery of programs and policy objectives. We have kept well-informed of international developments in privacy and information security law through activities such as participation (via internet streaming) in the World Summit on the Information Society Review Event hosted by UNESCO in Paris on 25–27 February 2013.

This is an extract from the 2012–13 AGS annual report