The Ashley Madison data breach had its enforcement postscript this month, with the dating website’s parent company agreeing to settle with privacy authorities by paying $US1.6 million.
Privacy authorities typically perform regulatory and enforcement functions on their own - or occasionally with another public body - within their domestic jurisdiction. They know the domestic law they enforce. The law will clearly lay out the authority’s role and provide a clear pathway to the intended outcomes.
The World Wide Web was invented in 1989 at much the same time that final drafting touches were being made to a privacy bill to be introduced to New Zealand’s Parliament. By 1993, when the Privacy Act was finally enacted, there were – wait for it – an estimated 15 million users of the Internet worldwide. That same year, according to Down to the Wire, Nat Torkington created New Zealand’s first ‘real web site’.
When I took up the job in February last year, I was pretty familiar with the legal and policy issues around privacy, and I knew a fair bit about complaints. One area that I hadn’t had so much experience with was international engagement. But this has long been important and will be a very prominent feature of the Office’s focus in 2015.