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University of New South Wales Faculty of Law Research Series

Faculty of Law, UNSW
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Paramaguru, Abi; Vaile, David; Waters, Nigel; Greenleaf, Graham --- "Distinguishing PETs from PITs: Developing technology with privacy in mind" [2008] UNSWLRS 35

Last Updated: 12 November 2008

Distinguishing PETs from PITs: Developing technology with privacy in mind.
Abi Paramaguru, David Vaile, Nigel Waters, Graham Greenleaf.

This paper will shortly be available for download.


This paper is the last of six submissions that will appear in the UNSW Law Research Series as part of a series made to the Australian Law Reform Commission on the Review of Australian Privacy Law Discussion Paper 72 by researchers on the ‘Interpreting Privacy Principles’ project based at the Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre, University of New South Wales.


The development of new technologies has the potential both to create new privacy intrusions and obstacles to preserving privacy never previously envisaged as well as address privacy concerns, by enabling control, monitoring and permission revocation by individuals. Technology often seems to lead to the erosion of our ability to perform everyday activities anonymously. The development of biometrics, RFID and the pervasiveness of data matching are all examples of technologies that cause this concern. Privacy law should be both robust enough to address the technological concerns we face today, and adaptive enough to tackle new and unforeseen hurdles.

This submission responds to Part B, titled ‘Developing Technology’, of the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Discussion Paper 72 Review of Australian Privacy Law, September 2007, which examines the adequacy of the Privacy Act 1988 in addressing the privacy impact of developing technologies and. The submission restates the need for a revised definition of personal information and draws attention to differing issues arising from ‘privacy invasive technologies’ (PITs) and privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs). The submission does not address all the technologies discussed by the ALRC, but does expressly comment on the privacy implications of radio frequency identification (RFID) and biometrics. Enhanced powers and functions for the Privacy Commissioner in relation to new technologies are also proposed.

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