The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has published Discussion Paper 72, asking for feedback on “301 proposals for overhauling Australia’s complex and costly privacy laws and practices”.

As stated in the ALRC’s media release, key proposals arising from the public consultation process undertaken to date include the following:

–simplifying the current regulatory scheme for privacy law;
–providing for the protection of personal information stored or processed overseas;
–introducing a new system of data breach notification to individuals;
–introducing a new statutory cause of action where an individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy has been breached;
–abolishing the fee for unlisted telephone numbers;
–expanding the enforcement powers of the Privacy Commissioner;
–imposing civil penalties for serious breaches of the Privacy Act; and
–introducing a more comprehensive system of credit reporting.

Submissions in response to the discussion paper are due by 7 December 2007. The ALRC plans to release a final report and recommendations in March 2008.

I have not been able to review the ALRC’s proposals in depth, but they appear to be responding to the considerably complex nature of Australian privacy laws (which are addressed at the federal and state levels, sometimes with separate treatment for medical records), as well as attempting to bring current privacy principles in line with current information technology and its implications.