What do death, taxes and deactivated online accounts have in common?

By Alec Christie and Eva Chapple 

Australia recently joined the growing ranks of countries that take privacy seriously — so seriously that a breach of the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) can now result in a fine of up to AUD1.7m (£935,850) for corporations and AUD340,000 for individuals. The amendments to the Privacy Act and the coming into force of the APPs on 12 March 2014 introduce a new higher standard for the way in which organisations operating in Australia collect, hold, use and disclose personal information.

But what exactly do death, taxes and deactivated online accounts have in common? Put simply: the apparent inability to escape them.

The reforms to Australia’s privacy laws were reflective of growing individual discontent in Australia concerning the handling of personally identifiable information by both the government and the private sector, particularly online. Internet users are becoming increasingly aware that any personal information that they disclose online may be extremely difficult to ‘take back’ or ‘be forgotten’ and may be used in ways that they did not anticipate when providing it…

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