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Australians 'uncomfortable' with storage of personal data

Brian Karlovsky | Oct. 10, 2013
New study comes just five months before government overhauls Australian Privacy Act

More than three-quarters of Australians are uncomfortable or unhappy with companies storing their data for later use, an Office of Australian Information Commissioner study shows.

The study, released today, which involved 1000 interviews, comes just months ahead of the government's enforcement of changes to the Australian Privacy Act in March next year.

The research also revealed an overwhelming 97 per cent of Australians believe it is a misuse of their personal information when it is collected for one reason and used for another, while 90 per cent are concerned their personal information will be sent overseas.

In addition, one in three Australians have had an issue with the way their personal information was handled in the last year.

Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim said data breaches most often occurred due to poor or inadequate security measures.

"With only five months to go until the changes to the Privacy Act take effect, businesses need to reinforce to their employees the company's responsibility for protecting customer details and also ensure that their security technology is robust."

The 2013 Community Attitudes to Privacy survey from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) is a longitudinal study which explores the changing attitudes of Australians on the use of their personal information.

The Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012 (Privacy Amendment Act) was introduced to Parliament on 23 May 2012 and was passed with amendments on 29 November 2012.

The Privacy Amendment Act is a part of the privacy law reform process that began in 2006.

It includes a set of new, harmonised, privacy principles that will regulate the handling of personal information by both Australian government agencies and businesses.

These new principles are called the Australian Privacy Principles (APP). They will replace the existing Information Privacy Principles apply to Australian Government agencies and the National Privacy Principles that currently apply to businesses.

Under the changes, there are 13 new APPs.

Joel Camissar, data loss prevention and privacy Lead at McAfee Asia Pacific said the research showed that Australian consumers are becoming more privacy savvy and aware, and are placing more value on their digital footprint.

"What this tells us is these changing attitudes are a timely wakeup call for businesses in the lead up to the enforcement of changes to the Australian Privacy Act in March next year," he said.

"The research findings have significant ramifications for Australian businesses keen to secure customer loyalty, and suggest the need for organisations to effectively communicate the measures they take to protect their customers' valuable personal information."

Camissar said business it was clear that companies which took privacy seriously would see benefits to their business in coming years. "With trust such a key element in the customer service relationship, there is a competitive advantage for businesses who take the lead in being transparent in how they handle and protect their customers' personal information," says Camissar.

 

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