Small business will be hit by changes to privacy laws

Plans to change the privacy rules will have a huge impact on small business in the form of more red tape and an extra administrative burden.

Plans to change the privacy rules will have a huge impact on small business in the form of more red tape and an extra administrative burden.

Top law reform group the Australian Law Reform Commission has produced a 2700 page report with 295 proposed changes to update the privacy act for the digital age.

The report recommends small business (under $3 million) be subjected to privacy regulations for the first time.

Peter Vitale, principal of CCI Victoria Legal and SmartCompany contributor, says the suggested changes would have a huge increase in litigation as people assert their right to privacy. Small business might also be affected in a number of ways, including having to observe privacy regulations around employee records and having to ensure that the collection of data for marketing purposes complies with national privacy principles.

There may be issues around security of databases and other issues that small businesses will have to take into account.

The NSW Business Chamber says businesses are already doing it tough in a tighter economic climate where they face high interest rates, higher fuel and transport costs and a slowing demand.

“While providing additional privacy protections for individuals has merit, the administrative burden must not be passed on to the business operators. ‘One size fits all’ approaches do not work for small businesses and must be avoided – they just do not have the capacity to take on more regulatory obligations,” says a spokesperson for the chamber, Nigel Blunden.

The Federal Government is expected to make priority changes in about 12 to 18 months.

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