The ‘Making Privacy Laws Work’ Project

The UNSW Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre’s ‘Making Privacy Laws Work’ project examines privacy laws from a complaints and casework perspective, and explores avenues for improving the regulatory framework’s law and practice.

Relatively little case law has sprung from state and federal privacy legislation to date, contributing to a paucity of publicised authoritative guidance on the interpretation of significant elements of the legislation. The resultant uncertainties come as privacy legislation like the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) is extended to large segments of the private sector.

‘Making privacy laws work’ aims to generate a greater amount of guidance on the legislation by, among other things, collating such material as is available in all relevant jurisdictions, encouraging regulators to hand down determinations and make summaries of appropriate case outcomes available, presenting procedural and substantive submissions to regulatory and law reform bodies, and where appropriate assisting test cases, representative actions and systemic advocacy. Results of individual matters will be publicised and experiences from the project published in a final report.

Initiatives related to this project include:

      1. An ACCAN-funded report into Telecommunications Privacy Complaint handling. September 2010.

      2. The Asian Privacy Scholars Network, established in 2010, arising out of the iPP project's 2010 symposium.

      3. The Proposed National ID Card research project, 2006-2007.

      4. The Interpreting Privacy Principles (iPP) research project and symposia, 2005-2009, which has generated a large body of work and resource material.

      5. Assisting the conduct of test cases on important issues in the implementation of Australian privacy law, particularly in the digital domain, including:

      6. Privacy Complaints – How to get a win for your client’, a continuing legal education conference. 2003

      7. What use are privacy commissioners?,’ the second day of the conference Terrorists and Watchdogs: Privacy and Surveillance 2003 devoted to reviewing 25 years of international experience of and lessons about the operation of privacy commissioners in a range of jurisdictions. 2003

      8. Research and advocacy about the publication (or non-publication) of Privacy Commissioners’ decisions for use by advisers and potential complainants, and the related ‘Privacy and FOI’ database project on AustLII. (There appears to be a recent gradual improvement in the rate of publication of OFPC reports.

For more information contact:

In addition to this project, the Centre also engages in a range of other privacy related activities, including: