|dc.identifier.citation||Fitzgerald, Brian, ed. Legal Framework for E-Research: Realising the Potential. Sydney: Sydney University Press, 2008.||en|
|dc.description.abstract||Privacy legislation in Australia is experiencing interesting times. The
Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) has published its
Discussion Paper on its Review of Australian Privacy Law dealing with
the potential amendment of the Commonwealth Privacy Act.2 The
ALRC review is the third review of the Act in the past three years, with
additional reviews being performed by the Australian Office of the
Privacy Commissioner (OPC).3 In short, this is an area where
considerable developments are being proposed and considered.
The Discussion Paper recommends significant changes both to the
structure of Australian privacy legislation4 and to the substantive
obligations. Recommended changes to substantive obligations will
impact research by imposing obligations regarding the privacy of
deceased persons5 and third parties whose information was not solicited,6 and by imposing an obligation to ensure that the personal
information they collect is relevant to the purpose for which it is
These developments should be taken seriously. Some researchers
consider that the Privacy Act presents a significant obstacle in the
conduct of research.8 There is no doubt that, compared to
untrammelled rights of access, the Privacy Act has resulted in higher
research costs, lost opportunities, less effective research and sub-optimal
quality of data. However, privacy legislation has the potential to be even
more burdensome than it is, or even to prevent research from occurring.
It is in researchers’ bests interests to understand how that might occur.
These developments are important not just because they might have a
chilling effect on research, but because they show that community
acceptance of research – and researcher’s need to use personal
information to obtain significant results - cannot be taken for granted.
The purpose of this chapter is to consider the political and legal
landscape that surrounds privacy legislation and to argue that without a
commitment by researchers to engage with the Australian society,
privacy legislation will remain subject to change in this way.
The chapter will commence by conducting a brief tour of the politics of
rights. Privacy legislation was enacted to meet a perceived need, and
that perception is more important than the reality. The chapter will then
examine how research takes place in accordance with privacy legislation.
It is argued that, although research may occur without obtaining the
consent of subjects, the exceptions are both less available than they are
perceived to be, and do not advance the cause of research generally.
Ultimately, however, the framework of privacy law itself provides
researchers with significant opportunities to influence the regulatory
environment within which they must operate. This can be done in a simple way: by adopting the rule-of-thumb that wherever consent can be
obtained, it should be obtained.||en|
|dc.publisher||Sydney University Press||en|
|dc.rights||Copyright Sydney University Press||en|
|dc.subject||Open access movement||en|
|dc.subject||Privacy and e-Research||en|
|dc.title||A Primer in the Politics of Privacy and Research||en|
|Appears in Collections:||Legal Framework for E-Research: Realising the Potential|