Privacy – the real deal

I read in an SMH opinion piece by Anna Johnston
“For every pub you visit, video you rent, domestic flight you take, bank account you open and gift you post overseas, there is a fair chance your RTA card number will soon be the key linking all these disparate bits of information about you into a comprehensive profile. That is something governments and marketers have only been able to drool about since the Australia Card proposal of the 1980s was abandoned in the face of overwhelming opposition”
However, it’s quite clear in the legislation that government issued identifiers are not allowed by the privacy legislation to be used as identifiers for information. You’re not allowed to use a medicare#, passport# or any government issued identifier (ABN doesn’t count) as a means of identifying an individual in a data store. If you ignore this, then you’re breaching the privacy legislation here in Australia, and can be prosecuted.
There’s so many more fear-mongering elements of that article that if they were enacted would breach some, or all of the nine national privacy principles or eleven information privacy principles that are part of Australian law. These include collection, disclosure, aggregation etc. Admittedly, this legislation on is relevant to the Private Sector, and the Goverment has slightly different requirements which can be found here.
One would have thought that “[the] chairwoman of the Australian Privacy Foundation [and] the NSW deputy privacy commissioner from 2001 to 2004” would know the legislation a bit better than some random programmer. Or maybe she’s got some other agenda ?
I mean, I can understand how you could be confused, the Privacy Act has only been around since 1988 and the privacy principles since 2000.
This is not pro- or anti- any political party or person. I’m anti-stupidity and fear-mongering. I can’t quite work out which one this article was. I should probably listen to the wise words of my grandfather – “Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by ignorance”.


2 thoughts on “Privacy – the real deal

  1. And you know what, “disparate bits of information” are really freakin’ hard to link together. Anyone who’s worked with data within an organisation knows how hard it is to link and correlate data inside of an organisation. It’s often nearly impossible to interlink and correlate data between completely different organisations.
    That stuff you see in the movies is tin-foil-hat-twitching fantasy. I would wonder whether or not the Chair of the APF hasn’t been subscribing to it.

Comments are closed.