Lenders, retailers, online marketers, government and even criminals are tracking our transactions, activity and preferences. This is what you can do about it to protect your privacy and your right to mind your business ….
By Jason Bryce
New laws give police powers (with a warrant) to take over your social media and online accounts to post, change, and delete data. They can even pretend to be you online.
Amazon, eBay, Kogan, Catch and other online marketplaces “give consumers no real choice about how their data is collected, used and disclosed,” despite long privacy policies said Senior Lecturer in Law and Justice, Katherine Kemp, for the Australian Privacy Foundation last month.
Australian banks may collect information about you from “oral sources, from correspondence and other written material either sent to us or from publicly available sources of personal information such as newspapers, electronic media, records of proceedings and public registers.”
Banks and lenders can now share your loan and account information with each other under new ‘consumer data right’ laws.
And banks don’t always get their information and data collection right, despite massive investments in the computer systems that run their operations. ME Bank, owned by the Bank of Queensland, faces criminal charges in the federal court, brought by the corporate regulator ASIC, for misleading customers about their loans, interest rates and repayments.
Criminals are increasingly targeting your online personal identities held by companies, retailers and financial institutions and developing new ‘ransomware’ apps to kidnap your information.
Critical infrastructure is being targeted as hacking tools and apps become increasingly available growing numbers of criminals via the dark web. Total self-reported losses from cybercrime totalled more than $33 billion in 2020/21.
In the 2020/21 financial year, the ACSC received over 67,500 cybercrime reports in total, up 13 per cent on the previous year.
“The increase in volume of cybercrime reporting equates to one report of a cyber attack every 8 minutes compared to one every 10 minutes last financial year,” said the ACSC in September 2021.
Fraud, online shopping scams and online banking scams were the top reported cybercrime types said the ACSC.
“The accessibility of cybercrime services – such as ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) – via the dark web increasingly opens the market to a growing number of malicious actors without significant technical expertise and without significant financial investment,” said the ACSC.
Yes you can but there are limitations and loopholes.
When you are online, visiting a website, little web applications called cookies collect basic information about you. Often, you’re able to choose whether to accept these cookies but if you want to use a website, sometimes you need to accept their cookies.
Often these privacy policies may contain clauses notifying you that your information may be used or sold or passed onto other companies for marketing purposes.
“Online marketplaces do claim to allow choices about “personalised advertising” or marketing communications,” says Katherine Kemp, “unfortunately, these are worth little in terms of privacy protection.”
For example, Amazon says you can opt out of seeing targeted advertising but this will not opt you out of all data collection for advertising and marketing purposes.
eBay also lets you opt out of targeted ads but: “Your data may still be collected as described in our User Privacy Notice.” Sates the eBay Cookie Notice.
So eBay retains the right to continue to collect your data from data brokers, and to share them with third parties.
Katherine Kemp wants an “anti-snooping rule” that would require consumers to actively opt-in to having their data collected and shared.
“This could involve clicking on a check-box next to a plainly worded instruction such as:
Please obtain information about my interests, needs, behaviours and/or characteristics from the following data brokers, advertising companies and/or other suppliers.”
There is no absolute, guaranteed right to privacy enshrined in Australian law but the Australian Privacy Act 1988 and the thirteen Australian Privacy Principles, administered by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) apply to government organisations, companies and organisations with an annual turnover of more than $3 million.
That means social media companies, online marketplaces and other large online operations are covered by privacy laws. If you know your rights under the law, you are better placed to protect yourself online. The 13 Australian Privacy Principles are listed below. Click through to the OAIC to get more information.
One frequently asked question is whether privacy laws apply to online social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
The Privacy Act covers organisations with an annual turnover of more than $3 million and operating in Australia (plus some others) so yes, the Privacy Act applies to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn and other similar platforms.
Here are ten simple and effective tips to help you protect your information when you are online, provided by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner:
All retailers in Australia and New Zealand need to continue to accept cash during and post COVID-19. While everyone needs to follow government health advice and the advice of the World Health Organisation, cash is an important legal tender and the backbone of our economy.
Are you a small business or a busines accepting card and/or online payments from customers? Have you tried to understand the merchant service deals and offers from banks and their competitors?