IAB argues for sensible privacy amendments

By By Wenlei Ma | 14 August 2012

The IAB has lobbied for a reasonable and practical privacy regulatory framework before a House of Representatives committee concerning amendments to the Privacy Act.

IAB director of regulatory affairs Samantha Yorke appeared before the a House of Representatives committee concerning amendments to the Privacy Act in Canberra, on behalf of its digital advertising industry. She pointed to three issues the IAB and its members would like to see addressed: business certainty, the global digital economy, and enforcement.

She said: “This industry is strongly committed to privacy and we want to do the right thing. However, we need a regulatory framework that is reasonable, practical and which provides business certainty so that the industry can continue to flourish.

“The online advertising industry's success is tied to ensuring that people have positive experiences on these platforms and fundamental to this is securing and maintaining users' trust – which is key to success as an online service provider. Ultimately, it is imperative to a digital businesses' bottom line to get users' privacy and security right.”

The House of Representatives is currently reviewing proposed changes to the Privacy Act 1988 which includes the creation of the Australian Privacy Principles (APP). In particular, APP 7 relates to direct marketing, which prohibits the use of personal information collected for the purpose of direct marketing, except in certain circumstances.

The IAB's position on APP 7 is that online advertising, which it states does not rely on personal information, should not be caught by the prohibition on direct marketing.

Last month, the IAB made its submission to the committee in conjunction with Yahoo!7, Google and Facebook which in addition to addressing APP 7, also commented on principles relating to anonymity and pseudonymity, collection, and cross-border data flows.

APP 7 has caused some controversy as it places a 'prohibition' on using information collected for direct marketing. However, the permitted use of personal information is allowed under certain conditions.

The Australian Direct Marketing Association (ADMA) submitted to the committee the term 'prohibition' should be removed from the drafting and said the term was confusing to businesses and consumers.

Similarly, the Australian Law Council submitted the emphasis in APP 7 should be shifted from 'prohibition' to 'permission'. The ALC said under APP 6, which deals with the collection and use of personal information more generally, the emphasis is on permission except where it is prohibited.

It wrote in its submission: “The Committee submits that direct marketing is a legitimate and economically valuable activity – much the same as use and disclosure of personal information for certain purposes other than the purpose for which it was collected - when conducted in a properly
regulated way. The Committee believes that the approach to the subject matter would be better reflected if the drafting structure of APP 7 follows that used in APP 6.”

In addition to the creation of the APPs, the proposed amendments to the Act also includes a more comprehensive credit reporting with improved privacy protections, introduction of new provisions on privacy codes and the credit reporting code and a clarification of the functions and powers of the Information Commissioner.

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