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What are the Australian Privacy Principles and the new Privacy Amendment Act?

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According to the website www.oaic.gov.au the Privacy Amendment Act includes a set of new, harmonised, privacy principles that will regulate the handling of personal information by both Australian government agencies and businesses. These new principles are called the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) and will replace the existing Information Privacy Principles (IPPs) that currently apply to Australian Government agencies and the National Privacy Principles (NPPs) that currently apply to businesses.

The Australian Information Commissioner (the Information Commissioner) will also have enhanced powers, which will generally be exercised by the Privacy Commissioner, including the ability to:

  • accept enforceable undertakings
  • seek civil penalties in the case of serious or repeated breaches of privacy
  • conduct assessments of privacy performance for both Australian government agencies and businesses.

Changes to credit reporting laws include:

  • the introduction of more comprehensive credit reporting, which will allow the reporting of information about an individual’s current credit commitments and their repayment history information over the previous two years
  • a simplified and enhanced correction and complaints process
  • a prohibition on the reporting of credit related information about children
  • a prohibition on the reporting of defaults of less than $150
  • the introduction of specific rules to deal with pre-screening of credit offers
  • the introduction of specific provisions that allow an individual to freeze access to their credit related personal information in cases of suspected identity theft or fraud
  • the introduction of civil penalties for breaches of certain credit reporting provisions
  • a requirement for credit providers to be a member of an EDR scheme, recognised under the Privacy Act, to be able to participate in the credit reporting system.

From my point of view this could change the way lenders credit score their loans as they will not only now have information at hand in relation to if you have bad credit history by way of Bankruptcy, Default’s or Judgment’s they will be able to have a micro view of your credit history down to if you pay your bills on time to your repayment history with other loans. Time will tell how this will affect borrowers and my recommendation is that you always pay your bills on time and this should not be an issue however that is not always as easy as it sounds and I hope the banks and mortgage insurers show some consideration to this.

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