Recent publications by law reform bodies worldwide

AuthorThomas Hickey - Sharon McLaughlin
PositionB.C.L. (NUI, Galway), LL.M. (Cambridge), Ph.D. Candidate (NUI, Galway) - B.A., LL.B., LL.M. (NUI, Galway), Ph.D. Candidate (NUI, Galway)
2007] Law Reform Update 239
A. Australia
Review of Australian Privacy Law
Discussion Paper (DP 72)
September 2007
On 12 September 2007, the Australian Law Reform
Commission (ALRC) released Discussion Paper 72, Review of
Australian Privacy Law. This Paper advances a blueprint for the
consolidation of Australia’s privacy laws and practices which, at
present, consist of a complex amalgam of principles and
guidelines. Private organisations and government agencies allude
to different principles under the federal Privacy Act, 1988 and
each state and territory has its own privacy laws or guidelines. In
addition, some states and territories have separate legislation on
privacy in the context of health. This Paper makes a total of 301
proposals for reform of the law in this area.
The Commission proposes a single set of privacy
principles for information-handling across all sectors, and all
levels of government. It is contended that a single set of privacy
principles will simplify the system, making it easier for
individuals to identify and understand their rights, and also make
it less financially burdensome for organisations to comply with
the system. The Commission proposes that government agencies
or companies who transfer personal information overseas without
consent should remain responsible for any breach of privacy that
occurs as a consequence of the transfer. The Commission also
proposes a new system of data breach notification: where there is
B.C.L. (NUI, Galway), LL.M. (Cambridge), Ph.D. Candidate (NUI, Galway).
B.A., LL.B., LL.M. (NUI, Galway), Ph.D. Candidate (NUI, Galway).
Judicial Studies Institute Journal [2007:2
a “real risk of serious harm” to an individual arising from
unauthorised access to his information, the Commission proposes
that the individual be notified of such a risk.
The Commission calls for the removal of the exemption
for political parties from the Privacy Act, the introduction of a
new statutory cause of action where an individual’s reasonable
expectation of privacy has been breached and the abolition of the
fee for “silent” telephone numbers. Other proposals for reform
include the expansion of the enforcement powers of the Privacy
Commissioner, the imposition of civil penalties for serious
breaches of the Act and the introduction of a more
comprehensive system of credit reporting. The ALRC is
currently seeking community feedback on these proposals. It is
intended to complete a final report and recommendations by
March 2008. Submissions close on 7 December 2007.
B. British Columbia
Report on the Parental Support Obligation in Section 90 of
the Family Relations Act
BCLI Report No. 48
March 2007
This Report recommends repeal of Section 90 of the
Family Relations Act – a provision that requires adult children to
support their dependent parents in their old age – which, in the
view of the Commission, has outlived its usefulness. While such
repeal may not be of great urgency at present, demographic trends
would suggest that Section 90 will be availed of more regularly –
with all of the concerns that that may entail – in the near future.
Section 90 has its origins in government policy in the 1920s and
30s where the State wished to reduce the burden of social
assistance. It is contended that the present legislation simply leads
to frustration on the part of dependant parents in their old age, on
their families and on the court system.
Among the chief arguments against Section 90 is that
parental support laws are less efficient than direct state support of

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