Federal Government appoints Carly Kind as a Privacy Commissioner, reinstating the stand alone position, commencing on 26 February 2024

November 27, 2023 |

The Government today announced the appointment of Carly Kind as a stand alone Privacy Commissioner, effective on 26 February 2024. This is an appointment that was foreshadowed in May 2023. The Privacy Commissioner was never abolished, and is a statutory position. The Information Commissioner was created in 2010. The new Federal Government announced that it would abolish the Information Commissioner in the 2014 budget and for a time cut its funding drastically. The Information Commissioner also held the position of the Privacy Commissioner. The attempts to abolish the Privacy Commissioner ended in May 2016 and the Government increased its funding, Its funding situation has steadily improved since then. With data breaches being a high profile issue the Commissioner has received very significant funding increases. In this year’s May budget it received an extra $17.8 million for the 2023 – 24 financial year and $44.3 million to support privacy activities and another $9.2 million over two years to regulate privacy elements of Consumer Data Right, My Health Record and Digital Identity.

The timid enforcement and spotty regulation of the Privacy Act 1988 has been attributed to the inadequate  funding in the past, especially in the 2014 – 2016 period, and beyond.  That is partly true but far from the whole story.  The Privacy Commissioner then Information Commissioner was a less than optimal regulator in the period pre 2014 and after 2016.  Since it obtained civil penalty proceeding powers in 2014 it has only commenced two actions, one of which was earlier this month.  That is regrettable. 

The Attorney General’s announcement of the appointment is:

Carly Kind has been appointed as Privacy Commissioner, reinstating the standalone position abolished by the Coalition. Ms Kind brings to the Privacy Commissioner role expertise in data protection; AI policy, practice and governance; privacy; and technology law and policy.

Ms Kind has held the role of inaugural Director of the London-based Ada Lovelace Institute since 2019. Between 2015 and 2019 she was an independent consultant to a number of human rights organisations, trusts and foundations, international organisations and the private sector. She has provided advice on legal, ethical and practical issues at the intersection of technology and human rights.

Ms Kind will commence on 26 February 2024. Ms Angelene Falk, the Australian Information Commissioner, will continue as Privacy Commissioner until that time.

When the Government amends the Privacy Act, probably some time next year, the Privacy Commissioner is likely to have stronger powers. In addition to the enhanced powers given to her this year.  The test will be whether they are used and how effective such regulation is.


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