‘Tabula Rasa’: Ten Reasons Why Australian Privacy Law Does Not Exist
UNSW Law Journal, Vol. 24, No.1, pp. 262-269, 2001
8 Pages Posted: 12 Feb 2013
Date Written: June 30, 2001
This article argues that in 2001, Australia still had nothing worth describing as a body of privacy law, even though a quarter of a century had then passed since the Privacy Committee Act 1975 (NSW) established the third permanent privacy protection agency in the world, and more than a decade since the federal Privacy Act 1988 came into force. The reasons for this tabula rasa were set out under ten heads: I. Our Courts have not yet Developed the General Law II. International Instruments have Under-performed III. Limited Scope has Rendered our Privacy Legislation Largely Irrelevant IV. Legislation Riddled with Exceptions: More Holes than Cheese? V. Enforcement that is Biased against Complainants Blocks Access to the Courts VI. Few Formal Determinations by Commissioners has led to a Lack of Law VII. Settled Complaints are not used as a Guide for Subsequent Complaints VIII. Guidelines Drafted by the Federal Privacy Commissioner may be Wishful Thinking IX. Litigators have made little use of Privacy Legislation X. Courts have shown a Limited Appreciation of Privacy Legislation
Other reasons were also noted including that privacy and public interest advocates and academics had made relatively little effort to analyze how the limited existing laws can be used or to find test cases.
The gist of the argument was that Australia need more law dealing with privacy, more than just the Commissioner’s lore.
Keywords: Australia, privacy, data protection, litigation, Privacy Act 1988, Privacy Commissioner
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