On March 12, work to update and change the Privacy Act 1988 commenced. The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has made it their mission over the previous year to work with businesses, agencies and organisations to ensure compliance with privacy laws for their customers.

Timothy Pilgrim, the Australian privacy commissioner, noted in the OAIC press release that he was impressed by the encouragement and positive support from businesses on this matter. He added their enthusiasm is “recognition that good privacy practices are good for business, particularly in building customer trust”.

The Privacy Act 1988 will be updated by adding a series of Australian Privacy Principles (APPs), which include changes to the current credit reporting provisions and a need for businesses to transparently and openly inform customers how their personal information is managed, stored and protected.

These changes are OAIC’s solution to the multitude of privacy complaints received throughout the past twelve months, which increased by 43 per cent from the previous year.

Implementing changes to their privacy policy is more economic for businesses in the long run. Indeed, as Mr. Pilgrim reiterated in the press release, “my message for all organisations and agencies is: it is more effective, and ultimately cheaper, to embed privacy in day-to-day processes than it is to respond to issues such as data breaches as they arise”.

These legal updates to the Privacy Act 1988 are deigned to foster a culture of privacy that can be enjoyed by customers and businesses alike. Data breaches can lead to legal action, so be careful and professional in handling customers’ private information.

Your business privacy policies should respond to this updated legislation. Consult with commercial lawyers to develop the best changes to your existing policies in light of these updates to the Privacy Act 1988.