[Not So] Happy Privacy Awareness Week

- May 2, 2013 2 MIN READ

by Paul Lupson

It is almost impossible to find a date in the calendar that has not been chosen to be a remembrance or observation day of some description. Later this month we have International Sword Swallowers Awareness Day, while November 4 sees in National Chicken Lady Day (proclaimed by President Bush) and just two days later, National Men Make Dinner Day. Well this week is Privacy Awareness Week and the Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, has take the opportunity to send very stern warnings to businesses that do not change their privacy practices to comply with the new privacy laws which take effect from April next year.

People are taking him seriously as he now has the power to issue fines up to $1.7 Million. The clear message is that all businesses in Australia must review their Privacy Policies this year.

The major  things you need to know about the new privacy laws:

– Act now: It takes effect March 2014 but you should change your privacy policies and procedures well before that time.

–  APPs: The laws used to be called the National Privacy Principles (NPPs) but they have been changed and are now called the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs)

– Review privacy policy: The NPPs never mentioned a Privacy Policy. The APPs now specifically require a business to have a Privacy Policy and sets out what must be included in a Privacy Policy. Legally, a Privacy Policy is only required if you have turnover over $3Million pa, but it is good to have a Privacy Policy anyway as customers expect it these days.

– Sending information overseas: If you are likely to send information overseas, then the new law requires that you state what countries you are likely to send the information to. This is particularly important if you use any cloud computing services as many of the servers providing these services are located overseas.

– Direct marketing: If you use direct marketing to access customers, then the APPs have changed the requirements around getting consent from people. Also you will be required to tell people where you got their details from. Can your current Customer Relationship Management system do that?

It is important to start on reforming your privacy practices now, as the new rules will definitely see more companies penalised for data breaches.

Paul Lupson is CEO of LawPath,  Australia’s only free legal matching service for small and medium businesses. Get 30 minutes on the phone with an experienced lawyer at no cost, no obligations.  Please see www.lawpath.com.au for more information. For a complying privacy policy template, please see the LawPath Privacy Policy Template . This template will help get businesses started on their privacy compliance review.