Freedom of Information and Privacy in Australia: Information Access 2.0 2nd ed
Published: November 2015
Publisher: LexisNexis Australia
Country of Publication: Australia
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Freedom of Information and Privacy in Australia: Information Access 2.0 2nd ed provides a comprehensive analysis of the three main statutory regimes which regulate access to public sector information in Australia and offers critical perspectives on their operation, having regard to underlying objectives and the broader context in which they operate. It highlights the law reform issues.
There have been many important changes in Australian government access laws over the past decade, including law reforms which have substantially affect three of the main laws discussed in this book.
The Commonwealth Freedom of Information Act has been substantially amended incorporate many important features of second generation FOI laws including:-
- A new presumption of openness as reflected in a new objects clause and provisions which spell out criteria to be taken into account and not taken into account in making decisions involving public interest tests.
- The creation of a new Office of the Australian Information Commissioner with responsibility for monitoring the Act and providing review of FOI access decisions.
- New requirements for agencies to proactively publish specific information and to maintain FOI disclosure logs
- A requirement for Commonwealth agencies to implement contractual measures to ensure access to documents held by contracted service providers The Commonwealth Privacy Act has been amended in three important respects:
- It now includes a set of new, harmonised, privacy principles which regulate both government agencies and private sector organisations via a set of Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) which have replaced the existing Information Privacy Principles (IPPs) National Privacy Principles (NPPs).
- It provides the Privacy Commissioner with enhanced powers, including powers to accept enforceable undertakings, seek civil penalties in the case of serious or repeated breaches of privacy and conduct assessments of the privacy performance of both government agencies and private sector organisations.
- It makes changes to credit reporting requirements including allowing the reporting of information about an individual’s current credit commitments and their repayment history information.
The NSW FOI Act has been repealed and replaced by the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009. This contains similar second generation features to those outlined above in relation to the Commonwealth amendments.
The Victorian FOI Act has been amended to create a new FOI Commissioner who reports directly to Parliament through a joint parliamentary committee, the Accountability and Oversight Committee. The Commissioner responsibility for responsibility for monitoring the Act and providing review of some FOI access decisions.
Both transparency and privacy have become very topical in the light of the Wikileaks and Snowden saga and debates that this have generated.
This text provides a clear exposition of the different legal regimes that govern access to, and amendment of, government information, including freedom of information laws, information privacy laws, health records laws and public records laws.