"Interpreting Privacy Principles"
ARC-funded Research Project – Summary
The Australian Research Council made a Discovery grant in
November 2005 for a multidisciplinary research project led
by Professor Graham Greenleaf of UNSW and hosted at the Cyberspace
Law and Policy Centre. It involves a range of distinguished
academic researchers and experts from Australia, NZ and Canada.
A summary of the grant information appears below.
For more information about the project's aims, see the Background
Paper. The rest of this site is for presentation
of the project's work in progress.
"Interpreting Privacy Principles"
The full title of this project is Creating
more consistent privacy principles through better interpretation
and law reform: an Australasian initiative to resolve an international
problem. comparative research into privacy principles.The
project, which is running for three years from March 2006,
is funded by the Australian Research Council through a Discovery
The project is supported by the joint UNSW-UTS Australasian
Legal Information Institute (AustLII) with its legislation
and caselaw databases.
Australia’s privacy laws will be reformed in the years
to come. The Australian Law reform Commission (ALRC) has embarked
on a major two year review of privacy. A consistent theme
both in the ALRC Issues Papers and in reports of previous
reviews is the need for national consistency in Australia’s
‘patchwork quilt’ of Commonwealth, State and Territory
privacy laws, including both general and subject-specific
laws in areas such as health, credit and telecommunications.
The iPP project will help provide that consistency.
Data export prohibitions have accelerated harmonisation of
the world’s privacy legislation, and all jurisdictions
are seeking to ensure that similar principles deliver similar
outcomes in practice. The APEC Privacy Framework is now encouraging
a minimum level of uniformity in the Asia-Pacific.
Most privacy laws are based on ‘Information Privacy
Principles’ (IPPs) covering the whole ‘life-cycle’
of personal information (including collection, security, integrity,
use, access, correction and deletion). The IPPs in these laws
bear a strong ‘family resemblance’, reflecting
in part the influence of key international agreements, but
differ in details and expression. They are underpinned by
a set of ‘core concepts’ such as ‘personal
information’, ‘document’, and ‘consent’,
sometimes defined in legislation.
The principal objective of this research is to conduct the
first comprehensive Australian study of
- the interpretation of IPPs and ‘core concepts’
in Australia’s various privacy laws, particularly
by Courts, Tribunals and privacy regulators,
- the extent of current statutory uniformity between jurisdictions
and types of laws, and
- proposals for reforms to obtain better uniformity, certainty,
and protection of privacy.
A small but rapidly growing body of cases has developed in
Australia over the last few years. More than 100 Tribunal
and Court decisions, a similar number of mediated complaint
summaries have become available. There has until now been
no systematic analysis of this material.
The project is also considering the interpretation of similar
IPPs and core concepts in the privacy laws of other Asia-Pacific
and European jurisdictions. Particular attention is being
paid to New Zealand, which has both the most similar IPPs
to Australia’s laws and the greatest wealth of case
law of any relevant jurisdiction.
The project is identifying the relationships (overlaps, inconsistencies,
additional principles) between the different Australasian
sets of IPPs, and then locating and analysing;
- administrative interpretations (Commissioner's guidelines,
Codes, mediated complaints reports etc);
- judicial and tribunal interpretations, including from
relevant Freedom of Information (FOI) law; and
- analogous principles in common law and administrative
law, equity and common law, and case law on these.
The researchers are also using the analysis to develop a
set of proposed ‘model IPPs’, and justifications
for them. These can be used as policy inputs into the development
(or reform) of Australian privacy laws, other national laws,
or international agreements.
Prof GW Greenleaf, P Roth, L Bygrave.
- 2006: $107,000
- 2007: $82,000
- 2008: $102,000
Category: 3901 - LAW
Administering Institution: The University
of New South Wales
This grant was announced in the document extracted
below, at http://www.arc.gov.au/pdf/LP05_Rd1_listing_state_university.pdf
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