Australia’s Notifiable Data Breaches (NDB) scheme will
come into effect later this week on February 22, 2018. Ahead
of the commencement, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
(OAIC) has released new
resources for the Australian public.
The NDB scheme mandates that Australian Government agencies
and the various organisations with obligations to secure personal information
under the Privacy
Act 1988 (Cth) (Privacy Act) notify individuals affected by data
breaches that are likely to result in serious harm.
A data breach occurs when personal information held by an
organisation is lost or subjected to unauthorised access or disclosure, for
instance when a database containing personal information is hacked or personal
information is mistakenly provided to the wrong person. Not all data breaches
Agencies and organisations must also notify the OAIC about
data breaches that are likely to result in serious harm to any individual.
Generally, agencies and organisations have a maximum of 30
days to assess whether a data breach is likely to result in serious harm.
The Receiving data breach notifications
resource published by OAIC provides useful guidance on what to expect when an
individual receives a data breach notification, including how organisations
might deliver notifications and when a privacy complaint can be made to the
The other new resource, What to do after a data breach notification,
provides a wide range of actions an individual can take to reduce the risk of
experiencing harm after a data breach.
Among the information provided are tips on combating the
harm that may result from a breach involving financial information or contact
information and steps to take when a person believes that they may be a victim
of identity fraud.
The OAIC has worked with consumer groups, not-for-profits,
and Australian Government agencies in the development of these resources.
The Australian Information Commissioner, Mr Timothy Pilgrim,
said, “The Notifiable Data Breaches scheme formalises a long-standing community
expectation to be told when a data breach that is likely to cause serious harm
occurs. The practical benefit of the scheme is that it gives individuals the
chance to reduce their risk of harm, such as by re-securing compromised online
accounts. The scheme also has a broader beneficial impact — it reinforces
organisations’ accountability for personal information protection and
encourages a higher standard of personal information security across the public
and private sectors.”
“By reinforcing accountability for personal information
protection, the NDB scheme supports greater consumer and community trust in
data management. This trust is key to realising the potential of data to
benefit the community, for example, by informing better policy-making and the
development of products and services,” Commissioner Pilgrim added.
The 2017 Australian
Community Attitudes to Privacy Survey released
in May last year, found that 94 per cent of Australians believe they should be
told if a business loses their personal information. Ninety-five per cent said
they should be told if a government agency loses their personal information.
Organisations are required to notify the Australian Information
Commissioner in addition to notifying individuals affected by an ‘eligible data
breach’ (a data breach that is likely to result in serious harm). Failures to
comply with the NDB scheme can attract fines up to $2.1 million.
The new resources for
the Australian public can be accessed here: www.oaic.gov.au/individuals/data-breach-guidance.
Guidance for organisations to assist them in implementing
the requirements of the NDB scheme can be found at: www.oaic.gov.au/ndb.