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100 Points


section heading icon     landmarks in Australian privacy

This page offers a basic chronology highlighting key events in Australian privacy development at the national and state/territory levels.

It includes specific privacy inquiries and enactments, along with selected legislation that features privacy provisions and reflects changing community perceptions about personal information.

It covers -

A broader international privacy chronology is here, with more detailed information here regarding the Australia Card and other Australian national identifier and registration schemes. Context is provided by the multi-page communications, business & media timeline on this site.

section marker     beginnings

1901 Commonwealth of Australia established - privacy not explicitly identified in federal Constitution

1914 Commonwealth Crimes Act 1914

1914 Commonwealth War Precautions Act 1914

1937 decision by High Court in Victoria Park Racing v Taylor that there are no property rights in a 'spectacle'

section marker     international covenants

1948 adoption by UN of Universal Declaration of Human Rights

1965 NSW Adoption of Children Act 1965

1966 International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights

1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights

section marker     state surveillance legislation

1969 listening device legislation passed in Victoria and NSW

1969 Boyer Lectures by Zelman Cowen on The Private Man

1971 Invasion of Privacy Act in Queensland

1971 Information Storage Bill in Victoria

1972 Listening Devices Act 1972 in South Australia

1973 report of inquiry by Morison into Privacy in New South Wales

1973 Human Rights Bill introduced in Senate but lapses with 1974 Double Dissolution

1975 Fair Credit Reports Act in South Australia

1975 Privacy Committee Act 1975 in NSW

1976 Commonwealth Family Law Act 1975

section marker     moves for Federal legislation

1976 Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) directed to report on privacy

1976 Mann Committee reports on Privacy & Data Protection in Western Australia

1978 Listening Devices Act 1978 in Western Australia

1978 Credit Reporting Act in Victoria

1979 ALRC report on Unfair publication: defamation & privacy

1979 ALRC report on Privacy & the Census

1979 Commonwealth Telecommunications (Interception) Act

1980 OECD Guidelines on Data Privacy Protection & Transborder Data Flows released

1982 Commonwealth Freedom of Information Act 1982

1983 ALRC report on Privacy

1983 Commonwealth Archives Act 1983

1984 Privacy Committee Act in Queensland

1984 Adoption Act 1984 in Victoria

1984 Listening Devices Act 1984 in New South Wales

1984 Federal Government adopts OECD guidelines

1986 Commonwealth Privacy Bill proposed but abandoned

1986 Australia Card proposed

1986 Qld Criminal Law (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act 1986

1987 Australian Privacy Foundation established

1987 ALRC report on Spent Convictions

section marker     Federal legislation

1988 Commonwealth Privacy Act passed, regulating most federal public sector agencies

1988 South Australian Adoption of Children Act 1988

1988 Tasmanian Adoption Act 1988

1988 Tax File Number introduced

1988 Commonwealth Cash Transactions Report Act 1988 (later Financial Transaction Reports Act)

1988 Data Protection Bill in Western Australia

1988 WA Spent Convictions Act 1988

1989 Privacy Committee established in South Australia

1989 federal Crimes Legislation Amendment Act 1989

1989 NSW Freedom of Information Act 1989

1990 NSW Adoption Information Act 1990

1990 Queensland's Privacy Committee Act 1984 amended and extended for a year

1990 new Commonwealth Spent Convictions Scheme

1990 introduction of 100 Points scheme under federal Financial Transaction Reports Act

1990 NSW Adoption Information Act 1990

1991 Privacy Bill introduced in South Australia

1991 Review of Telecommunications (Interception) Act 1979

1991 Listening Devices Act 1991 in Tasmania

1991 NSW Criminal Records Act 1991

1992 amendments relating to credit reporting made to the Commonwealth Privacy Act 1988

1992 WA Spent Convictions Act 1992

1992 NT Criminal Records (Spent Convictions) Act 1992

1993 ACT Adoption Act 1993

1994 Australian Privacy Charter Council formed

1994 WA Adoption of Children Act 1994

1994 NSW Privacy & Data Protection Bill introduced but lapses

1995 report on privacy by Commonwealth Parliament House of Representatives Standing Committee on Legal & Constitutional Affairs

1995 NSW Privacy Committee releases Invisible Eyes report on video surveillance in the workplace

1996 Federal Attorney-General's Privacy Protection in the Private Sector discussion paper released

1997 public inquiry on privacy issues conducted by Federal Privacy Commissioner

section marker     fair handling principles

1998 National Principles for the Fair Handling of Personal Information (voluntary code of regulation for the private sector) established by the Federal Privacy Commissioner

1998 ACT Health Records (Privacy & Access) Act came into force

1998 Privacy & Personal Information Act in NSW passes

1998 Data Protection Bill in Victoria (later named the Information Privacy Act)

1998 Surveillance Devices Act in Western Australia

1999 Workplace Video Surveillance Act in NSW

1999 Senate Legal & Constitutional References Committee's Privacy & the Private Sector report released

1999 Commonwealth Attorney-General releases draft provisions of the proposed new privacy legislation

1999 Commonwealth Electoral & Referendum Amendment Act (No. 1) 1999 restricts commercial use of electoral roll data

2000 Surveillance Devices Act 1999 in Victoria, which repeals Listening Devices Act 1969, commences

section marker     extension to private sector

2000 first reading of Commonwealth Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Bill. Legislation is subsequently passed after minor amendments and community criticism

2000 EU submission to House of Representatives Committee indicates that Privacy Amendment (Private Sector) Bill would not meet EU's test of "adequacy"

2000 Information Privacy Act in Victoria passed

2000 Information Privacy Act in Queensland lapses

2001 Federal Privacy Commissioner releases draft code development guidelines

2001 High Court ruling in ABC v Lenah Game Meats Pty Ltd suggests that there is no right to privacy for corporations even after an action for trespass

2001 Health Records Act in Victoria passed

2001 Paul Chadwick appointed as Victoria's first Privacy Commissioner

2001 Federal Privacy Commissioner announces research projects on Privacy & the Community and on Privacy, Business & Government

2001 Federal Privacy Commissioner releases draft NPP and draft Health Privacy guidelines

2001 Tasmania and Western Australia commence drafting privacy legislation

2001 Federal Privacy Commissioner releases consultation paper on Privacy Issues in the Use of Public Key Infrastructure for Individuals

2001 National Health & Medical Research Council releases draft s95A guidelines

2001 Information Privacy Act in Victoria comes into effect

2001 Federal Privacy Commissioner begins to approve industry codes under s95A

2001 Senate committee report on Cookie Monsters? Privacy in the Information Society

2001 new federal regime comes into effect

2001 Listening Devices (Miscellaneous) Amendment Act 2001 revamps 1972 SA Act as Listening & Surveillance Devices Act

2001 NSW Law Reform Commission report on Surveillance

2002 Health Records Act in Victoria comes into effect

2002 new federal regime provisions cover many SMEs

2003 Grosse v Purvis ruling by Qld District Court is first Australian case where claimant successfully sues for tort of privacy?

2004 judge in Giller v Procopets specifically rejects cause of action based on breach of privacy

2004 TICA found to have breached federal Privacy Act

2004 federal Electoral & Referendum Amendment (Access to Electoral Roll and Other Measures) Act 2004

2004 federal Surveillance Devices Act

2005 NSW Workplace Surveillance Act 2005

2005 federal security legislation

2006 federal Privacy Legislation Amendment Bill 2006 implements selected recommendations of ALRC Essentially Yours report

2007 ALRC Review of Australian Privacy Law discussion recommends comprehensive change to national regime

2007 new federal government abandons Access Card project

2008 ALRC For Your Information: Australian Privacy Law & Practice report recommends major changes, including data loss notification and tort for major breach of privacy


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version of August 2008
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