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Australia must look to EU for data protection law changes in the wake of Facebook scandal: Greens

Media Release
Jordon Steele-John 12 Apr 2018

Thursday, 12 April 2018

The Australian Greens have called on the Federal Government to urgently update privacy protections in line with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), due to come into effect on the 25 May 2018, in the wake of the ongoing Facebook data collection scandal.

Digital Rights spokesperson Senator Jordon Steele-John said Australia should look to the GDPR as a model of international best practice for protecting the online privacy of Australian’s, particularly from companies that might employ surveillance capitalism.

“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. 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.

“We need to urgently move toward 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.

“Whilst 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 Australian’s 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.”

Media Contact:

Tim Oliver - 0448 316 387

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