Monday, 31 December 2012

Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim Goes on Uninformed Power Trip.

The Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, has urged all organisations, both public and private, to review the new principles and warned that his office will have substantially boosted powers to enforce the laws and exact penalties for any breaches.

“From the commencement of the new laws, I will be able to accept enforceable undertakings, seek civil penalties in the case of serious breaches of privacy, and conduct assessments of privacy performance for both Australian government agencies and private sector organisations,” Mr Pilgrim said.

“While I will continue to work with agencies and businesses to help them comply with privacy laws, I will not shy away from using these powers in appropriate cases.”

What this means for healthcare providers is that all organisations should review their privacy policies now, as they will be required to have a written statement, according to a briefing note by Corrs Chambers Westgarth partner, David Smith, and senior associate, Matthew Craven.

It also means they should look at boosting their IT security arrangements to ensure a breach does not occur, security experts say.

Read More of this story by Kate McDonald at Pulse+IT

Data Theft Australia's Response

The overt blustering by The Australian Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, that his office will have substantially boosted powers to enforce the laws and exact penalties for any breaches is a typical knee jerk response to a critical problem facing all consumers.

Characteristically the introduction and passing of the Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Bill 2012 falls well short of the mark primarily due to the ignorance of its supporters on both sides of the parliament and particularly The Attorney General, Nicola Roxon and The Health Minister Tanya Plibersek.

Health Minister, Ms Tanya Plibersek, Ms Roxon as former Health Minister and again as the Attorney General have been made aware, on numerous occasions, of the lack of legislative powers for Police to charge employees who compromise data and more particularly healthcare providers and medical centre patient data.

Ms Roxon has even admitted, at a Canberra Press Conference, that the greatest threat to data security within Government is corrupted public servants. Recent surveys have also indicated that over 70% of data thefts within private sector organisations are committed by insiders.

Another meeting with senior Fraud Squad Detectives in Sydney, on Wednesday December 19, 2012 confirmed Police are powerless to charge employees who steal personally identifying data from health care providers.

With so many people effected by such an insidious act of theft including patients, business owners, employees, their families and suppliers governments have to take a much more serious look at passing legislation that will allow Police to charge employees responsible for data theft.

Mr Pilgrim should spend more time actually uncovering what the real issues are rather than postulate how much power he now has.

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