What is the Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012

[signoff icon=”icon-help-circled”]QUESTION: “I had an agent out to list my unit and they wanted me to sign a statement for some new law, can you tell me more about this. They had trouble explaining it.[/signoff]

The Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012 comes into force this Wednesday, however, it applies only to agents with an annual turnover of more than $3 million or those who operate a residential tenancy database (such as a subscription service). A major change that may affect real estate businesses is the new Australian Principle 7.

This sets out how and when personal information may be used for direct marketing purposes.


The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has prepared a detailed fact sheet that outlines the principles of the new act.

The new provisions mean that, for the first time, people can access information held by private sector organisations that they previously could not, such as financial information and customer details.

An organisation must take reasonable steps to make individuals aware that it is collecting personal information about them, the purposes for which it is collecting the information, and who it might pass the information on to. There are some restrictions on what an organisation can do with the personal information it collects and when it can disclose personal information or transfer it overseas.

Except for some special circumstances, individuals have a right to get access to personal information an organisation holds about them and to have the information corrected or annotated if the information is incorrect, out-of-date or incomplete. Individuals can also make a complaint if they think information about them is not being handled properly.

Real estate businesses with a turnover exceeding $3 million should review their practices to ensure compliance with the new Australian Privacy Principals. Agencies may need to review, update or re-write any procedure manuals referring to the old National Privacy Principals, so they refer to the correct Australian Privacy Principal, as well as to reflect the requirements of the new principals.

First National Real Estate will shortly make available an updated privacy statement and Quality Assurance documentation.