OAIC hits back
Australian Information Commissioner, John McMillan has hit back at claims made by a University of Canberra academic.
The article by Bruce Baer Arnold - Privacy Matters, But Will Politicians Take Up the Challenge - appeared in the 15 October edition of PS News.
In his statement, Professor McMillan said the article lacked objectivity or academic credibility.
He said that Assistant Professor Arnold started with the offensive observations that the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) undertook its privacy survey ''to reinforce its legitimacy''; and that it merely conveyed ''unsurprising'' OAIC messages that ''don’t tell us anything that is really new''.
“He omits noting that this privacy survey has been repeated many times since 1990, that it was undertaken independently by an expert industry survey firm, and that the report provides valuable longitudinal findings on a range of privacy attitudes,” Professor McMillan said.
“Many other acknowledged privacy and information specialists have publicly welcomed the latest detailed findings.”
He said Assistant Professor Arnold also alleged that the OAIC had been captured by ''commercial interests and by bodies such as the Attorney-General’s Department''.
“It is unprofessional for a university officer publicly to make that assertion without presenting further evidence or argument,'' he said.
Professor MacMillan said Assistant Professor Arnold had stated that ''consumers have a perception that Governments … actually don’t care much about the privacy of ordinary people''.
“What is the empirical or research basis for that observation? The findings presented in the OAIC’s professional survey point the other way. An example is that 69 per cent of respondents said they trust Government to safeguard personal information,” Professor McMillan said.
“The OAIC’s website - www.oaic.gov.au - contains a large array of material that records the thorough work that is being undertaken to safeguard personal privacy, to implement significant privacy reforms that commence in March 2014, and to engage the community in this important challenge.”
Edition 384, 22 October 2013