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Guidance, not threats, needed for Data Breaches Scheme

Publication date: 01 Mar 18 | Source: THE TAX INSTITUTE

Media Release                 

Guidance, not threats, needed for Data Breaches Scheme

Date: 1 March 2018

22 February 2018 saw the effective commencement of the Notifiable Data Breaches Scheme (NDB Scheme). This Scheme applies to eligible data breaches that occur on or after that date.

The NDB Scheme together with the existing provisions of the Privacy Act 1988 effectively mandates a legislative requirement for people handling sensitive information to provide adequate and effective software protection and, more importantly, to report and notify any breaches to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner on a timely basis. 

“Many Tax Institute members have expressed considerable frustration at the lack of clear guidance being provided on practical ways in which to ensure compliance with these ‘new’ obligations” said The Tax Institute’s Senior Tax Counsel, Bob Deutsch.

“Rather than threatening practitioners with all manner of adverse consequences, practitioners need clear guidance on matters such as:

  1. Is the printing of tax returns with Tax File Numbers and posting those to clients either by mail or email permissible as a result of these changes?

  2. If a client has forgotten their TFN, can an agent email the TFN to them?

  3. What exactly must an agent do to demonstrate that he/she has taken all reasonable steps to protect personal information from misuse?

  4. What practical checks can an agent take to satisfy him or herself that there has not been a notifiable data breach?

“At this stage what is needed is not threats but guidance on practical issues such as those raised above”, said Mr Deutsch.

“The answer to the first two issues is a resounding ‘Yes’ provided that adequate data security protection has been used to protect the confidentiality of the personal information. Guidance on the later questions is still sorely needed.”



For more information, please contact: Sharon Lenton, Media Relations Contact: 02 8223 0011

The Tax Institute is Australia’s leading professional association and educator in tax. Its 12,000 members include tax agents, accountants and lawyers as well as tax practitioners in corporations, government and academia. The Tax Institute supports the tax profession through education and professional development and works to continually improve tax law and its administration.