Friday, 13 April 2018 06:27

Greens call for GDPR to serve as model for privacy protection


The Australian Greens have called on the Coalition Government to update privacy protections to stay in line with the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation that is scheduled to take effect on 25 May.

In a statement, the part's digital rights spokesperson Senator Jordon Steele-John said the government should look to the GDPR as a model for privacy protection, especially in the wake of the ongoing revelations regarding Facebook's data collection.

Senator Steele-John has in the recent past spoken out condemning Cambridge Analytica, which has been at the centre of the Facebook scandal, and seeking the removal of absolute exemptions in the privacy act for politicians and political parties. The privacy exemptions are backed by both the government and the opposition.

In Thursday's statement, the Greens Senator said looking at best practice for protecting Australians' online privacy, particularly from companies that might employ surveillance capitalism, was extremely relevant at the moment.

“The context for all of this, and what is really concerning to me, is that when you have companies offering an online service for free, what often ends up happening is that the individual becomes the product," he said. "This is exactly what has happened with Facebook and is exactly why, in the wake of this scandal, we need to seriously rethink how we approach privacy in the digital space.

“Under the GDPR, consent must be explicit for data collected and for the purposes for which data is used, and individuals will have the right of access to their personal data and information about how this personal data is being processed.

“Currently, in Australia there is no such regulation and there is no concept of consent in relation to the collection of data online; this is extremely problematic."

Senator Steele-John said there was an urgent need to move towards a consent-based system, "which we don’t have, and one that includes the right to be forgotten – that is the right for all of your data to be removed, permanently, once you discontinue using that online service provider".

“While the Privacy Act here in Australia does provide individuals with some rights in relation to the collection of personal information and greater transparency over the way that information is handled, these rights are all after the fact.

“It is extremely concerning that Labor and the Coalition are not supportive of increasing Australians' rights to privacy in the online world, particularly in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

“The US Congress is calling for the protections Facebook is establishing for Europeans to be extended to Americans, and we should be doing the same for Australians. The Greens will continue to push the federal government to legislate for better data protection regulations.”


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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.



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