Privacy 101 - Back to Basics (From the Commissioner)

Angelene Falk: Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner

In Privacy Awareness Week this year we are encouraging everyone to check they have covered the basics.

Once upon a time, the basics were just that – straight-forward. We could tell children not to give their information to strangers. Documents could be stamped ‘confidential’ or ‘private’ and kept in a locked cupboard, with restricted access by approved staff.

If you provided your information to a company to access a service, there was a limit to how far it would go, and who would see it. Now it can go all around the world in seconds.

But while the world may have changed, the same basic principles apply.

Here on our Privacy 101 website you can get a refresher on what you should do to protect your own personal information, as well as what organisations and agencies need to do to ensure best privacy practice.

There is tailored advice for individuals, business, and government departments and agencies: you can find them via the tabs below.

The right to privacy is fundamental, and the high-profile data breaches of the past months have put the security of personal information in the spotlight. We all know privacy must be protected, but people can be unsure what to do, or it can feel overwhelming.

That’s why our Privacy 101 website is designed to engage people and organisations in a privacy refresher, to help improve and strengthen privacy practice.

It’s easy to build good privacy habits. There are a range of straightforward steps you can take to protect your personal information, such as checking your privacy settings and strengthening your passwords. Also, thinking carefully about who you share your information with, and how.

For organisations and agencies, taking a privacy by design approach, assessing the risks and training your staff to prevent data breaches are some of the essentials. 

People need to know that they can trust organisations to handle their personal information carefully, transparently, securely and accountably and respond promptly and appropriately if things go wrong.

Of course, best practice in privacy doesn’t stand still. Privacy foundations need ongoing upgrades as our world continues to be rapidly transformed by innovations in technology. Organisations need to look ahead, to anticipate changes in their environment, and consistently revisit and revise their privacy settings. They must also be aware and responsive to the needs and concerns of their customers and the wider community.

The best organisations recognise that privacy is a fundamental right – and reflect that in all they do.

You can help show your organisation’s commitment to privacy by signing up as a Privacy Awareness Week supporter. You’ll receive our toolkit to help you increase privacy awareness among your staff, customers and stakeholders. Help your people apply best practice in privacy at home and at work, so they can be safe, and help protect others.

From all of us at the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, thank you for supporting Privacy Awareness Week and protecting the personal information of all Australians.

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