Looking forward, looking back – the year that was: Business Breakfast Club December summary

WRITTEN BY Lauren Babic

This month at Business Breakfast Club, we had a roundtable discussion on the standout issues of 2018 and the impact these issues will have in 2019. In particular, we discussed the changes to the Privacy Act, the introduction of the General Data Protections Regulation (GDPR), the proposed changes to bankruptcy legislation, the impacts of the recent Royal Commissions and changes in financial markets (to name a few).

Privacy Law

We revisited the changes to the Privacy Act in February of this year, which introduced a mandatory notification procedure for eligible data breaches. All entities bound by the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) have new reporting obligations if there is an eligible data breach, namely, to notify the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) and any parties at risk because of the breach.

We explored the type of harm individuals have suffered as a result of eligible data breaches and how these breaches have led to an increase in identity theft and online hacking. We discussed a real life experience of scam activity in Canberra that illustrated the high level of sophisticated online hacking that exists in the digital age. Eligible data breaches and instances of scam activity and identity theft must be kept in the forefront of a business’ risk management policies as it can undoubtedly have serious consequences such as loss of personal savings.

The European Union also passed similar privacy legislation (the GDPR) regulating how companies protect citizens’ personal data. The GDPR is designed to give EU citizens’ control of their personal data and simplify the regulatory environment for international businesses by unifying the regulation within the EU. If you are engaging an overseas entity that is bound by the GDPR and that entity is collecting and storing personal information provided by you (or for your benefit), we recommend you seek legal advice about whether the overseas entity’s privacy policy is compliant with the GDPR.

Bankruptcy Legislative Changes

We also discussed the proposed changes to insolvency laws, currently before Parliament, which could see the bankruptcy discharge period in Australia reduced from three years to one. The proposals are contained in the Bankruptcy Amendment (Enterprise Incentives) Bill 2017. It’s unlikely the Bill will be enacted before the Federal election next year. Many suggested that the current debt arrangements mean that individuals are paying more to their creditors and are locked in for longer than three years but if the Bill is enacted such arrangements would end altogether.

For more information on any of the above, please contact Lauren Babic or our Business & Commercial team at BAL.

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