Australian Information Mangement Ethics And Law Essay

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Australian Information Mangement Ethics And Law Essay, Research Paper In the new electronic age, we are relying more and more on information technology to streamline government, educate our children, make health care more accessible and affordable, and make our businesses more productive and competitive. This rush to embrace a new age of technology must not, however, obscure the ongoing responsibility to protect important information and maintain the personal privacy of citizens. There is increasing awareness, both in Australia and overseas, of the privacy implications of new information technologies. This has led to mounting pressure to ensure that those technologies are introduced in ways which respect the expectations of individuals in relation to the handling of their

personal information.(Task Force, 1997) The concept of privacy is “the expectation that confidential personal information disclosed in a private place will not be disclosed to third parties, when that disclosure would cause either embarrassment or emotional distress to a person of reasonable sensitivities” (Privacy Commissioner, 1995 ). Information is interpreted broadly to include facts, images (eg. photographs, videotapes) and disparaging opinions.(Privacy Commissioner, 1995) In the past aswell as the present invasions of privacy had been treated as trespass, assault, or eavesdropping. Part of the reason for the delay in recognising privacy as a fundamental right is that most modern invasions of privacy involve new technology (eg. telephone wiretaps, microphones and

electronic amplifiers for eavesdropping, photographic and video cameras, computers for collecting/ storing/ finding information). (Hilvert, 1997) Before the invention of computer databases, one might invade a few persons’ privacy by collecting personal information from interviews and commercial transactions, but the labor-intensive process of gathering such information made it impossible to harm large numbers of victims (Hilvert, 1997). Hilvert further stated, “storing such information on paper in file cabinets made it difficult to use the information to harm victims, simply because of the disorganized collection of information.” Consequently, there is an overwhelming need to regulate privacy in the private sector. Over the past 25 years, many countries have introduced

privacy and data protection laws. In Australia, the Privacy Act already covers some private sector activities, with special rules in relation to credit reporting and tax file numbers (Privacy Commissioner, 1995). The Act also applies to Commonwealth and ACT government agencies and some private contractors handling personal information on behalf of government. It is soon be extended to all contractors. (Privacy Commissioner, 1995) In March 1997 the Federal Government announced that it preferred voluntary self-regulation to address the issue of privacy, because of concerns about the costs of compliance with a legislatively based scheme. (Task Force, 1997) The Scheme deals with the fair and responsible handling of personal information. Put simply, this means: Informing people about

why their personal information is being collected and what it is to be used for; Allowing people reasonable access to information about themselves and to correct it if it is wrong; Making sure that the information is securely held and cannot be tampered with, stolen or improperly used; and Limiting the use of personal information, for purposes other than the original purpose, without the consent of the person affected, or in certain other circumstances. (law.gov.au, 1999) Then in February 1998 the Privacy Commissioner issued The National Scheme for Fair Handling of Personal Information, giving individuals more control over the way in which their personal information is handled, and ensuring they are treated fairly (law.gov.au, 1999). It also set out the opportunities for