Small business Federal Privacy Act exemption continues, but definition changes

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Small business Federal Privacy Act exemption continues, but definition changes

The exemption of small business from the Commonwealth Privacy Act is to be maintained, but the definition of ‘small business’ is to be changed from a turnover of less than $3 million to having 20 or fewer employees.

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The exemption of small business from the Commonwealth Privacy Act is to be maintained, but the definition of ‘small business’ is to be changed from a turnover of less than $3 million to having 20 or fewer employees. 

Peter Hendy, Chief Executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), which lobbied for the exemption, said the Privacy Commissioner yesterday recommended it be maintained. 

Cost of compliance

The recommendation was part of the Federal Privacy Commissioner’s review of the private sector provisions of the Privacy Act. 

Hendy said ACCI considers the proposed shift from a turnover to an employee measurement to be a workable proposal. 

‘ACCI is pleased that its views on the potential compliance costs of abolishing the exemption have been accepted,’ he said.  

‘In our submission to the review we calculated that its abolition would initially cost each small business around $2400 on top of additional annual costs to satisfy ongoing adherence to the Act.  

‘The continuation of the exemption is also practical recognition that small business is unlikely to pose a significant risk to privacy.’ 

Hendy said that notwithstanding the exemption the small business community is committed to ensuring appropriate protection is given to personal information. 

Review of legislation

ACCI also agreed with the review’s recommendations that there is a compelling case for greater national consistency in all privacy related legislation and this lack of consistency contributes significantly to the costs imposed on business. 

Hendy said ACCI is hopeful that the Attorney General will respond positively to the review and calls upon the Australian Government to consider the small business implications in its response.  

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