Burning Platforms: Online privacy in Australia

On Burning Platforms we take a deep dive into the legal frameworks for entrenching digital data rights into Australian law. From informed consent to data matching and security, is the traditional approach to privacy applicable to the online world? 

Key points:

  • Facebook whistleblower Francis Haugen, the former employee responsible for the Wall Street Journal 'Facebook Files' leak has unified US Congress who expressed support for her testimony and recommendations against Facebook. This multi-partisan approach is reflected in Australia's recent examples.
  • As politicians look at regulating Big Tech, there should be consideration placed on the design of the platforms, including algorithmic transparency rather than just content moderation and defamation.
  • Amazon's new robot Astro is the latest tool in Amazon's surveillance empire, this time packaging up their surveillance technology in a cutesy form that people may not realise is monitoring them all the time.
  • Australia's Privacy Act needs some key updates, missing fundamental protections like embedding a right to privacy for individuals and looking beyond personal, identifiable information.
  • We need privacy protections beyond identifiable information given that current surveillance models process and target individuals using de-identified information.
  • Consent is also an issue with an over-emphasis on user consent to manage data collection and processing.
  • Privacy law is ultimately about the protection of our personal autonomy and dignity, and the ability to control our own lives. Big Tech systems that narrow this autonomy, whether through privacy breaches or algorithmic manipulation needs to be addressed.
  • Given the complexity of our information and privacy landscape, we should use all the tools available to us to protect individual privacy online - including statutory torts against serious breaches, increased user management controls, algorithmic transparency, and proper regulation and legislation.
  • Australia should build on global examples, like the EU's GDPR, California's CCPA, and Canada's privacy no-go zones, for its own Privacy Act update.


You can also catch this session of Burning Platforms as a podcast: