The elephant in the room – is there a tort of privacy in Australian law?

Because data is intangible and not protected by a single legal doctrine the law struggles to fashion appropriate remedies when data has been copied or ‘stolen’ in an unauthorised manner.  The High Court of Australia faced this issue in a hearing on 12 and 13 November 2019 involving a challenge to the validity of a search warrant - leading to the Court wondering whether the journalist was asking the Court to recognise a tort of invasion of privacy in Australian law. read more...
Subjects: Privacy

Australian Privacy Commissioner takes expansive view of jurisdiction in Ashley Madison case

Many regulators take an expansive view of their remit, and the Australian Privacy Commissioner has acted in this way in the Ashley Madison case. The Ashley Madison data security breach attracted enormous publicity worldwide, when details of approximately 36 million subscribers were published by hacktivists operating under the monicker “The Impact Team”. The company that read more...
Subjects: Privacy

Wi-fi tracking of students in Australia

Recent publicity about an Australian university’s practice of tracking the location of people connected to the university’s wi-fi network raises a mixture of policy and legal issues. The media report claims that the legal position is not clear, so this post is intended to help readers understand that position. The university’s spokesman is quoted as read more...
Subjects: Privacy | Technology

Cloud privacy – significant developments

There were two significant developments last week for the privacy in the cloud: The European Commission endorsed the EU-US Privacy Shield, which will replace the earlier Safe Harbor scheme that had been found wanting by the European Court of Justice in the Schrems decision. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in the US decided that read more...
Subjects: Privacy | Technology

Computer implemented business methods – routine patent cases for the Australian courts?

A Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia appeared to suggest that patent cases involving claimed inventions for computer implemented business methods can be determined using an established framework and such cases are no longer at the cutting edge of patentability – that mantle has been assumed by gene technology. The case in point read more...
Subjects: Patents

EU-US privacy safe harbor no longer safe

Our European colleagues have summarised the recent decision of the European Court of Justice dealing with the EU-US privacy safe harbor.  This is a big deal – the US Secretary of Commerce has been quoted as saying that the decision “puts at risk the thriving trans-Atlantic digital economy”. The plaintiff in the case, Mr Schrems, read more...
Subjects: Privacy | Technology

Australian Department of Immigration data breach – another court decision

Data security breaches can cause much more than financial harm to affected individuals. In February 2014 the Australian Department of Immigration accidentally disclosed personal information about almost 10,000 asylum seekers. The asylum seekers became concerned that if their request for asylum was denied and they were removed from Australia to their country of origin, they read more...
Subjects: Privacy

Misuse of private information is a “tort” in English law

The Court of Appeal for England and Wales has held that the cause of action recognised in English law since Campbell v Mirror Group for misuse of private information should be classified as a tort rather than an equitable cause of action. The question of classification was important in litigation against Google, Inc, because the read more...
Subjects: Privacy

Another Privacy Commissioner determination awarding compensation

A notable feature of Timothy Pilgrim’s tenure as Privacy Commissioner has been his willingness to make determinations awarding compensation. At the end of March 2015, the Commissioner published his reasons for making another determination in which compensation was awarded. Some facts and figures on compensation under the Privacy Act With Privacy Awareness Week in the read more...
Subjects: Privacy