The Australian Law Reform Commission has been requested to conduct an inquiry into the protection of privacy in the digital era by attorney general, Mark Dreyfus QC.
The inquiry aims to address both prevention and remedies for serious privacy invasion.
Dreyfus said further work needed to be conducted on whether to create a right to sue an individual or organisation for serious violation of privacy. "I am asking the Australian Law Reform Commission to consider this issue in light of changing conceptions of community privacy and rapid growth in information technology capabilities," Dreyfus said in a statement. "The Government strongly believes in protecting the privacy of individuals, but this must be balanced against the Australian public's right to freedom of communication and expression." Dreyfus noted that earlier consultations by the Australian Law Reform Commission in 2008, and responses to the Government's 2011 discussion paper, showed little consensus on how a legal right to sue for breach of privacy should be created, or whether it should be created at all. He stated a range of issues were raised, including whether a tort could create a more litigious culture, how it could impact on free speech and how the implied right to political communication could be balanced with an individual's right to sue. He said the Government will carefully consider the findings of the Australian Law Reform Commission before making a final decision.