Google Street View in Australia: Privacy implications and regulatory solutions
James Meese and Rowan Wilken
This article examines the introduction of Google Street View in Australia, and the subsequent ‘payload data’ collection scandal. Through this case study we consider the privacy implications of Street View and the various regulatory discourses that have emerged around this Google service in Australia. We argue that, while privacy by design (PBD) is one of the most commonly advocated methods of privacy protection in Australia, its implementation carries a number of significant limitations. The March 2014 introduction of the Australian Privacy Principles holds some promise, but it still views privacy as a compliance issue rather than a rights issue. We suggest that the introduction of a broad statutory right to privacy could ensure fuller privacy protections for end-users of Street View and other location-based services.
Since 2011, several Australian jurisdictions have introduced ‘shield laws’ featuring a rebuttable presumption that journalists will not be compellable to give evidence that would disclose the identity of a confidential source. The first relevant case decided under these laws suggested that they will be more favourable to journalists than previous common law and statutory positions. However, celebration is premature. Australian judges have always been reluctant to exempt journalists from compelled disclosure of their sources, despite the fundamental ethical obligation journalists have to keep source identity and information confidential. Courts have only slowly and hesitantly recognised a public interest supporting that obligation. One important reason is that, unlike European and English courts, Australian courts have failed to consider the free speech implications of disclosure. As long as this judicial predisposition persists, Australian shield laws may provide only a weak protection for journalists.
Copyright reform: The online copyright infringement discussion paper
James Halliday and Mary-Cate Byrne
There is a multiplicity of legal issues currently facing internet service providers (ISPs) in Australia. These include the impact of the national broadband network, the recent amendments to the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and potentially the decision regarding the ‘righ to be forgotten’ by the EU Court of Justice. Another key question is whether ISPs should have ‘authorisation’ liability for infringing acts by their customers. The High Court answered this question in the negative in its decision in Roadshow Films Pty Ltd v iiNet Ltd31(iiNet Litigation) by rejecting the liability of ISP iiNet under s 101 of the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth) (Copyright Act). Alternative means of protecting rights holders’ interests have also been canvassed, particularly the introduction of a graduated response scheme for ISPs by reference to similar international implementations in the United Kingdom, France and New Zealand. The release of the Online Copyright Infringement Discussion Paper(Discussion Paper) by the government in July 2014 provides guidance as to the Federal Government’s regulatory agenda in relation to this issue, including possible circumstances in which ISPs could have liability for authorising copyright infringement by their subscribers. In December 2014 the government announced its Collaboration to Tackle Online Infringement Plan (Collaboration) under which it proposes to implement new strategies to deal with online infringement through both industry participation as well as amendments to the Copyright Act.
Court calls full time on disproportionate defamation claim against Google
Robert Todd and Leah Jessup
Last month the New South Wales Supreme Court for the first time applied a line of English authority to throw out defamation proceedings brought against Google Inc where the court considered that the costs involved in prosecuting the claim were out of all proportion to the interest at stake. The decision is a significant one for search engine providers like Google and publishers of online content, where material is often read by only a few and the costs of defending defamation claims can be excessive.
The right to be forgotten — international and domestic legal and policy developments
New Zealand Media Law Update
New Zealand media law update