Countries around the world are grappling with questions about digital technology, including issues relating to artificial intelligence and how best to regulate that technology, says NSW Privacy Commissioner Samantha Gavel.

“They want to ensure they obtain the benefits of the technology. They don’t want to regulate in a way that prevents those benefits from being realised,” she said.

But, she added, they also appreciate the need for sensible regulation of this new technology

Gavel made her comments during a panel discussion on Trust, Privacy and Consumer Consent, run by Which-50 and SAP, which also featured speakers including Adam Fraser, Director of Customer Practice at EY, Blaine Carter the CISO of Franklin Covey, and Aarron Spinley, Growth and Innovation Evangelist for SAP.

As digital platforms have proliferated and as data analytics has become more ubiquitous Australia’s regulators have launched a range of investigations to ensure protections are kept up to date and appropriate to contemporary circumstances.

Speaking at the event, Gavel outlined some of these.

Global interest

“In July 2019, the ACCC released its final report on the digital platforms inquiry. This is really a landmark report not only in Australia, I think it’s being watched by regulators worldwide as well, because of some of the issues that it raises.”

Gavel noted that chapter seven of that report examines in detail the consumer issues relating to the use of personal data and privacy.

“Some of the recommendations from this chapter include the introduction of a statutory privacy tort for serious invasions of privacy, and it also recommends broader reform of the Australian privacy law at the Commonwealth level.”

According to Gavel, the Commonwealth government has also agreed to review the Commonwealth Privacy Act, and that review is expected to commence next year.

This is also happening at a time when the ACCC is pursuing action against Google in the Federal Court.

The  Australian Human Rights Commission has also released its discussion paper on human rights and technology, and it is particularly looking at artificial intelligence.

“That paper was released in December 2019 and was open for comments until April 2020. The Australian Human Rights Commission will be releasing its findings on that report, I expect later this year.”

In her own State, NSW, Gavel said the government is planning to introduce legislation to introduce a mandatory data breach scheme for New South Wales agencies next year.

“These debates are likely to continue into the future. Privacy risks are heightened by the use of digital technology because of its ability to collect, store and use personal information, and of course, because of cybersecurity risks.”

“Privacy issues will continue to be front of mind for regulators, and for consumers and businesses well into the future,” she said.

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