Your selected location:
17 May 2018

It may be surprising to some that, in Australia at least, there is no fundamental right to privacy.  There are laws that protect aspects of your confidential information, including the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and associated Privacy Principles, that impose sanctions on those who fail to properly deal with private data. Common law remedies also exist in theory, however there is no readily accessible statutory cause of action that allows a privacy breach victim to claim their emotional distress and other damages. This gap in our law was the subject of a 2014 Australian Law Reform Commission Report, to which the Australian government has never formally responded.

Instead, since late February 2018 we now have a mandatory requirement for various entities including government and larger businesses, to report breaches of privacy.  If your data is compromised (accessed by those who are not authorised), you must be notified and suggestions offered on ways to mitigate any impact.  If your credit card details are leaked, for example, a suggestion might be to cancel those cards to prevent unauthorised use. 

Under this new law, you will know exactly when your privacy was compromised.  Cold comfort perhaps, however the intent is that a process of reporting will ultimately lead to better protections.

Of course, not all private information is the same. It is hard to imagine what should be done to mitigate the impact of a breach of personal medical information.  Once disclosed, such information cannot simply be cancelled – it remains true, sensitive and open to abuse no matter what is done in response.

Which brings us to yet another crossroads in the privacy debate.  As of the end of 2018, all Australians will have their own online e-health record – known as My Health – unless we each take action to opt-out within a specified 3-month window, yet to be announced.  Once created, private medical information will be continually uploaded by GPs, pharmacies, medical specialists, pathologists and the like, to create what is intended to be a comprehensive record of your health history. This then becomes accessible by other medical professionals, to assist in providing your improved future health care. The information is also said to be used in a more general sense, to provide data and therefore potential insights into various issues of national significance and beyond.

Of course, the system is said to be protected by various levels of sophisticated security. This claim must be tempered by the view of some IT commentators that true data security is no longer possible – that all data is ultimately accessible to those who seek it. The health sector is currently responsible for over a quarter of all notifiable data breaches, as outlined in the first report under the new disclosure legislation. The federal Health Department itself has also been in direct breach of privacy law, when in mid-2016 it released de-identified health data on 2.9 million people – 10% of all Australians – that was able to be re-identified using information readily available elsewhere.

One thing is clear: the law is not able to physically protect your private information.  It can only respond to breaches that have already occurred.  Allowing your private information to exist outside of your direct personal control then becomes a question of risk versus benefit. 

We advocate that everyone should be aware of the facts on the collection, storage and use of their private information, to enable informed decisions and where possible, the knowledge to control that process. 

For more information regarding My Health records and your rights, visit myhealthrecord.gov.au.

MARCUS HODGE | As published in the Albany Advertiser 

This is general information only and does not constitute specific legal advice. If you are concerned for yourself or a member of the community, please contact HHG Legal Group on we.help.people@hhg.com.au to book a 15 minute appointment at our free legal assistance clinics.

HHG Legal Group offers high service levels, without cost concerns. How? By pioneering a genuine, simple ‘client satisfaction guarantee’. If you aren’t happy, fees will be reduced.

*This is general information only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. Please consult one of our experienced Legal Team for specific advice relevant to your situation.

Supporting Western Australian's for more than 100 years

"Always fast and thorough service. Thank you"

Sitka Pil

My circumstances at the time I made contact with HHG were dire following my argument being rejected by two no win no fee firms. Following my initial meeting with HHG's employment law team I was left feeling extremely positive by the response and concern shown by HHG in regards to their support of my argument along with their preparedness to pursue an outcome on my behalf.

I accept the fact that nobody really wins in these cases (mental health/ workplace) however the end result was what would be considered most favourable and far in excess of what would have been achieved had I not sought the advice from HHG.

I have no hesitation in recommending HHG to anyone caught up in the messy circumstances I found myself in at the time.

Great advice and five-star commitment to their client!!"

Nathan Lynch

"Thank you for such great assistance with the transaction of Flying Domestics on behalf of Lorna Good. It has been such a pleasure to work with the HHG Legal Group and I look forward to working with you in the future."

Jim Goodwin

"Simon Creek and his team were at all times empathic, professional and confident.  My matter needed to be addressed within a pressing time frame, and their availability at short notice and contact after hours was much appreciated.  It caused me considerable stress, but having such a thoroughly reliable and competent team to call on helped me to feel in control. Although I hope not to need their services again in future, I would be confident in doing so!"

Dr Lana Bell

"A good outcome is what we can expect.  A great outcome is a sign of a company which does the very best for their clients. A very big thank you to Daniel Morris for showing empathy towards my small and much needed legal action.

To HHG Legal Group, thank you for a great outcome.  I would recommend your company to anyone seeking legal services."

Jan Atkinson

"Your support this morning was amazingly kind, not to mention your totally reassuring competence, knowledge and wisdom that you used on my behalf.  It was extremely reassuring to have your knowledgeable support, and I particularly appreciated your real and obvious kindness to me. It means so much at a very difficult time. I'm so grateful to you."

Family Law Client

"Janene was very professional and we established a good rapport quickly. The subject of death and wills can be quite confronting to deal with, however, Janene's approach was soft and accommodating."

Lynette Livesey

"A big thank you to HHG for their professional service, continued support, and wide range of legal knowledge. Our clients have given us nothing but kind words regarding HHG Legal Group and so we have no hesitation in referring and recommending Simon Creek and HHG Legal Group for their outstanding services and legal expertise."

Nigel Plowman, Director at McKinley Plowman & Associates

"Simon is a friendly and practical legal advisor. I have received great feedback from the clients I have referred to him and his team at HHG Legal Group."

Richard Beal, Director at BDO

"Over the last few years, I have been impressed by Simon’s legal ability, management skills, entrepreneurial spirit, personal integrity and people skills. He appears to be that rare breed of lawyer – both knowledgeable and commercial."

Michael Malone, Founder of iiNet

"Our family has been a client of HHG Legal Group over many years.  Business has included drawing up of wills for three generations and preparing of probate for my father in law. I would have no hesitation in recommending HHG Legal Group to anyone requiring such services."

Bernice Climie

"You should be congratulated for the manner in which your staff address clients and we found our dealings with your company, once again a very pleasant experience and we would like to truly thank you for your efforts."

Steve Harvey and Jane Powell

"HHG Legal were absolutely fantastic. Extremely responsive and brought calm to our chaotic family situation through their knowledge and caring attitude. Extremely professional from our very first contact with them and they expertly guided our family though the required legal process over almost a 12 month period."

Amanda Williamson

"Fantastic team! They really care about their client. Tim Colcutt is a 'go that extra mile' guy who gives his client his all. I can't recommend HHG and Tim enough."

Kerry Samson

"I had a fantastic lawyer in Anne Hurley. She helped me out a great deal with good, sound advice in a friendly, professional manner. First class, thanks Anne"

Graeme Hammond

"Marine Plant Systems has been working with HHG Legal Group for a few years now and they continually provide first-class service. Their professional advice has been invaluable to our company."

Carolin Grimm - Marine Plant Systems

"We were kept up to date at all times. Pricing was always updated over the time period so we remained "in budget". Personal access to someone whenever I had questions. All in all a great experience without too much fuss."

Rosslyn Tasker - COO AltusQ Pty Ltd

"Good service you can count on."

Miles Lee

"HHG Legal Group has provided outstanding support as I have taken the journey of buying a business, their professionalism is beyond reproach. Their assistance throughout the Due Diligence process has been invaluable, I would fully recommend them."

Mark Armitage

"Very friendly and efficient service - what a pleasure working with Anne."

Jacques Taylor

"I highly recommend Daniel from HHG Legal Mandurah. When dealing with a complicated legal property matter recently I was extremely impressed by Daniel's honesty and integrity and the legal advice I received. I am very happy with the service from HHG Legal."

Tony Walker

Select your location:

Please select your nearest office location so we can show you the most relevant information.