Disputes & Litigation Law
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Data breaches

Keeping data private in at technological world

Millions of Australians have recently been affected by data breaches, including the Optus and Medibank breaches in late 2022. Even if you were not a victim, it is likely that you know someone who was.

Individuals, small businesses, and large organisations are all at risk of data breaches which can affect anybody who provides personal data, and anyone who collects and stores it.

Privacy is a human right[1] and information privacy –which is the protection of your personal information – is a key aspect of this right.[2]Although many data breaches have very little impact on affected individuals and may cause some emotional distress, some data breaches can have extreme consequences such as identity theft, fraud, and financial loss.

The Australian government is now working to penalise companies who fail to take adequate care of customer data.

Keeping companies accountable

The Privacy Legislation Amendment (Enforcement and Other Measures) Act 2022 (“the Act”)was introduced in late 2022 to increase current maximum penalties for serious or repeated privacy breaches. The Act amends a number of existing pieces of legislation including the Privacy Act 1988.

Maximum penalties can now reach the greater of $50 million, three times the benefit of a contravention, or 30% of domestic turnover if a benefit cannot be calculated. The Act also provides broad power to the Commissioner to investigate breaches and keep the public informed.

How to mitigate the risk of a data breach

Although it is difficult to minimise the risk of hacks and data breaches of organisations, there are steps you can take to mitigate the risk at an individual level.

The Australian Cyber Security Centre, our leading agency on national cybersecurity, recommends staying vigilant for scams. Cybercriminals often utilise email, SMS, phone calls and social media to trick you into opening attachments or revealing sensitive information about your accounts.

Updating your passwords and not using passwords across multiple platforms is another way you can stay cyber-safe.

If you have been affected by a data breach please call our litigation team on 98709870.

[1] Charterof Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic) s13.

[2] Jrecek v Director, Transport SafetyVictoria [2016] VSC285, [64] (Bell J).

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