Privacy Commissioner warns of 'business imperative' of online privacy

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By Steven Raeburn | N/A

October 10, 2013 | 4 min read

The Australian Government’s Community Attitudes to Privacy survey has concluded, finding that Australians are becoming more concerned about privacy risks.

"A business imperative to be transparent about personal information"

The survey, undertaken by the Australian Information Commissioner’s office showed that people expect the organisations they deal with to take effective steps to safeguard their personal information, the Government said.

“In the last 5 years we have seen a significant change in how people communicate and interact online,” said Australian Information Commissioner, Professor John McMillan.

“People’s attitude to the importance of personal privacy protection is changing at the same time.”

The survey found that 48% of Australians believe that online services, including social media, now pose the greatest privacy risk. Only 9% of survey respondents considered social media websites to be trustworthy in protecting privacy.

Privacy Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim said it was clear that the Australian public continues to insist that their personal information is handled with the highest possible standards.

“There is a business imperative for organisations to be transparent about their personal information handling practices and to ensure that privacy is built in to systems and processes right from the beginning,” he said.

“Just over 60% of Australians have decided to not deal with an organisation because of privacy concerns, which is an increase from just over 40% in 2007.

“These results send a very clear message that people remain concerned about how their information will be handled. With a significant number of people saying that they have decided not to deal with an organisation due to privacy concerns, I suggest that business needs to listen to this and consider improving their practices,” he added.

The survey showed that 79% of people feel that cross-border disclosure is a misuse of personal information, and 90% have concerns about the practice.

“This is an interesting finding given the increasing frequency with which data is being sent off-shore,” said Pilgrim.

“New privacy laws commencing next March will increase protection around the handling of Australian information that is transferred off-shore, and it will be interesting to see how attitudes change as a result of this.”

">Data Privacy image via Shutterstock

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