In March this year the Prime Minister announced that the Privacy Commissioner would be available to help business `in the development of voluntary codes of conduct to meet privacy standards'.
To achieve this, I have consulted widely - with businesses, peak bodies, non profit organisations, consumer groups, privacy advocates and Federal and State Government representatives. Two central issues come through clearly. First, there is general agreement that there is an urgent need to address privacy concerns as part of an enabling framework for the new information economy. Second, there is a strong desire for one simple scheme. No-one wants a patchwork of different schemes across business sectors or between States.
To meet these needs, this consultation paper presents a self-regulatory `National Scheme for Fair Information Practices'.
For those coming to the issue of information privacy for the first time, it may well be sufficient simply to read the Overview. This is a summary of what the scheme is trying to achieve and the essence of how it will work.
The rest of the document is a detailed discussion of all the potential features of the scheme, aimed at the many readers who have been involved in the debate over how an information privacy scheme could work. They now want detailed responses to issues that have been raised.
I would be doing business and consumers no favours by embarking on a process which delivers less than international best practice in fair information practices. Therefore, while all the details of the scheme are open for discussion, there are some minimum standards and processes which must be in any scheme.
I invite further public debate on all the issues contained in this consultation paper. I would welcome direct feedback by 15 September 1997. In October I will be holding a series of forums around the country for the full range of stakeholders to discuss the issues and to gauge the level of interest in, and commitment to, this proposal.
I acknowledge the input of many of my staff to this paper - in particular, that of Nigel Waters, Brant Pridmore and David Thorp.
1 August 1997