Wednesday, 21 March 2018
Personal Information and Privacy
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) on 18 March 2018, The Guardian reported that Cambridge Analytica harvested the Facebook profiles of more than 50 million users without their permission and used the personal information and resulting psychological and political profiles of the Facebook users to better target them with political advertisements during the Trump presidential election,
(ii) on 20 March 2018, The Guardian reported that members of the Liberal Party, including Mr Tehan, met with Cambridge Analytica in April 2017, and that the SA Liberals had adopted United States-based micro-targeting service - i360, backed by United States businessmen and conservative political donors, Messrs Charles Koch and David Koch, for the South Australian state election campaign,
(iii) Australian politicians, political parties and organisations engaged by political parties are exempt from privacy laws under section 7C of the Privacy Act 1988,
(iv) in 2000, in response to the proposed political exemption to the Privacy Act, the Federal Privacy Commissioner stated that he did "not think that the proposed exemption for political organisations is appropriate",
(v) in 2008, the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) recommended the removal of the political exemption to the Privacy Act, stating "in the ALRC's view, political parties and those engaging in political acts and practices should be subject to the Privacy Act – provided that the legislation can accommodate adequately the constitutional doctrines of implied freedom of political communication and parliamentary privilege. Removing the political exemption also accords with a number of comparable overseas jurisdictions, which do not exempt political parties or those engaging in political acts and practices from complying with privacy legislation, including the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Hong Kong", and
(vi) there is need for ongoing review of privacy regulations in Australia, including the collection, storage, and use of personal information by government, corporations and other entities; and
(b) calls on:
(i) all Australian political parties to detail any involvement with Cambridge Analytica or SCL, including whether they had ever provided any government data, such as electoral rolls, and
(ii) the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to also consider the collection and use of personal information for political advertising as part of its public inquiry into the impact of digital platforms on media and advertising markets in Australia.
The government does not support this motion. The exemption for political acts and practices in section 7C of the Privacy Act is primarily intended to facilitate the communication of policies to voters and the running of election campaigns. With regard to the allegations involving Cambridge Analytica and Facebook, the Privacy Commissioner has announced that his office is making inquiries with Facebook to ascertain whether any personal information of Australians was involved. The government expects all political parties to comply with the law.
Labor is very concerned about the allegations regarding breaches of privacy on social media platforms and possible misuse of that information. However, Labor does not support pre-empting the inquiries of the Privacy Commissioner and the ACCC that are currently underway.