Privacy Act update: Consumers could get ‘unqualified’ right to opt-out of targeted advertising

The Australian Attorney General’s Department has released an initial report on the Privacy Act Review, exploring the possibility for consumers to opt out of target adverting, erasing and de-indexing their personal information online, among other proposals.

The 320-page report was informed by submissions, including those from IAB Australia, which highlighted the need for a balance between the privacy protection of consumers and the viability of the digital industry in 2022.

To set the premise for new measures, the proposals introduced clearer definitions of direct marketing, targeting and trading. For example, direct marketing is no longer limited to promoting goods or services, but also the aims and ideals of any organisation.

Importantly, the review aims to give consumers the “unqualified right” to opt-out of their personal information being used or disclosed for direct marketing purposes and of receiving targeted advertising.

This looks to address the gap in the existing Privacy Act, whereby the capacity for action is limited if individuals were being targeted but not identified for advertising purposes, as in the case of “unidentified” or “de-identified” data.

CEO of IAB Australia, Gai Le Roy, told Mumbrella: “It is clear the government is progressing many of the reforms it canvassed in its previous Discussion Paper process, including clarifying the definition of personal information and shifting responsibility for privacy from consumers to organisations through a fair and reasonable requirement.

Gai Le Roy

“We will need to look more closely to understand the impact on the industry but we plan to work closely with the government to ensure that the reforms are balanced.

Echoing sentiments in IAB’s submission, Le Roy said it’s important that the digital adverting industry “remain able to function” post the revision.

Additionally, the report outlined individuals’ rights of accessing, erasing and de-indexing their personal information upon request, modelled around the EU’s data protection framework.

In cases of privacy breaches, companies are also looking at harsher repercussions from the enhanced power of the regulator and the courts.

Mark Dreyfus, the attorney general, said the government will now seek feedback on the 116 proposals before deciding further steps to take.

“The large-scale data breaches of 2022 were distressing for millions of Australians, with sensitive personal information being exposed to the risk of identity fraud and scams,” he said.

“The Australian people rightly expect greater protections, transparency and control over their personal information and the release of this report begins the process of delivering on those expectations.”

Submissions on the report are due 31 March 2023.


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