Speak now on privacy laws: Australia’s review approaches close

Mar 2023


“Now is the last chance to have your say on the shape of privacy laws in Australia for the next 10 years – so use it wisely.” KWM Partner Cheng Lim

Australia’s privacy and data protection laws are set for an overhaul that will both strengthen and modernise the landscape. There is still a window to have your say on the proposals – but it is fast closing. Submissions to the Australian Government’s response on the Privacy Act Review Report are due on Friday March 31.

To share their insights on the proposals and help inform clients, KWM Partners Cheng Lim, Kirsten Bowe, Michael Swinson and Bryony Evans recently sat down to discuss the changes proposed in these reforms. This was part of our annual Sprint to the Finish series of professional development sessions – you can watch the session in full here. Below, we share snippets of their perspectives and critical advice on what organisations can do to anticipate the fast-approaching reforms.

We are watching the space closely and will share our insights as the situation develops.

“There is certainly a long road to travel on privacy reforms and it will be fascinating to see where we shape up in terms of the Privacy Act in the year to come.” KWM Partner Bryony Evans

Tell me in two minutes!

  1. Proposed changes were released by the Attorney General’s Department on February 16. Following two years of consultations and reviews, the Privacy Act Review Report made 116 proposals to strengthen and modernise privacy law. The report runs to 320 pages and key themes include the type of ‘personal information’ protected, exemptions for small business and journalists (among others), notice and consent, data security and direct marketing.
  2. The broad reaching changes will increase alignment with EU laws.The reforms will introduce a number of individual rights, and also include data processor distinctions and a broader definition of personal information that will increase alignment with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This will have broad reaching implications on organisations and individuals.
  3. High risk privacy activities will require greater scrutiny. While the principles-based approach of the Privacy Act will be retained, there are some reforms directed at specific activities that are considered high risk, including automatic decision making, use of biometric data and targeting.   There will also be a requirement to undertake a Privacy Impact Assessment for any high risk privacy activity.
  4. Increased enforcement options. A raft of new proposals to increase enforcement powers and to enable direct right of access and even a statutory tort of privacy are proposed as part of the reports.
  5. Transparency is key. Transparency runs through the Report as a critical theme, in accounting for appropriate public scrutiny.
  6. Start preparing now. Don’t wait until the reforms are passed to start considering your organisation’s approach to privacy and personal information.  Now is the time for organisations to start carefully considering data collection, use and storage and to review privacy policies and data retention and destruction processes and how they may interact with the likely reforms.

The report is admittedly long – but it is considered and covers critically important areas in the privacy sphere.

“There is so much food for thought in this report – it’s definitely worth the read. Particularly the summary of the 116 recommendations if nothing else and trying to assess their implications on your organisation.” KWM Partner Cheng Lim

Want to know more?

  • Make a submission to the government here
  • See the Privacy Act Review Report here
  • Read our insight on the release of the long-awaited report, including details on the key themes and highlights, here.


Cheng is passionate about digitisation, data, cybersecurity, and the power of technology to transform our world. He guides clients through major technology, sourcing and procurement projects, particularly in regulated industries such as telecommunications, rail, electricity, and financial services.

He is Chair of the Australian firm's Information Technology Governance Committee, responsible for the governance and oversight of the strategic direction of the firm's IT strategy and cybersecurity posture.

Kirsten is a partner in our Technology and Intellectual Property team.  She specialises in large and strategic commercial transactions and advisory work involving technology, intellectual property, data, privacy, cybersecurity and emerging technologies.  Kirsten is a trusted adviser to clients across a range of industries and is valued for her commercial and strategic approach.  She is focused on guiding her clients through complex legal issues and navigating the full lifecycle of project delivery.

Bryony is a Partner in KWM’s Tech team based in Sydney. She loves exploring new technology, seeing how it shapes organisations and speaking to clients about the intersection of technology, law and ethics, especially in the AI space. Bryony is a technology and data separation and integration specialist and is well known for her work on high profile and complex financial services transactions, being recognised as Lawyer’s Weekly Dealmaker of the year in the Women in Law Awards 2021 for her work in the space. Outside of work, she’s an avid reader, beach goer and arts lover.

Michael specialises in commercial transactions involving technology, intellectual property and data assets. Alongside his transactional practice, Michael also has a strong interest in the development of emerging technologies and the data economy. He is an active thought leader on matters relating to privacy, data governance, cyber security, Big Data and the Internet of Things. Michael is a trusted adviser to clients across a wide range of industry sectors, including major corporates, successful Australian tech businesses and global tech titans.

Georgia is a Law Graduate in KWM’s Tech team based in Melbourne, with a passion for all things telco and cybersecurity. In her spare time, Georgia is a competitive dancer and you will usually find her training with her team for the next big competition.

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