Up to 80pc of offices are non-compliant

An independent survey of offices around the country has discovered that four out of five offices are non-compliant with new privacy reforms introduced last week.

The alarming statistics were raised by Jennifer Brooks, consultant at Real Estate Dynamics.

“After the legislation passed last Wednesday, I did a sample survey of a number of offices around the country. The results were quite worrying,” she told Real Estate Business.

Some offices had failed to update their publicly accessible privacy policy to reflect the new reforms and some did not have any statement available at all.

While a portion of offices had attempted to update their privacy policy, most were still not up to scratch.

“Some offices had at least made an attempt, but they had clearly taken a privacy policy from a third party and substituted their own name in it,” she said.

As each privacy policy must be tailored to the individual office, this is breaching the new laws.

“Some had actually failed to completely remove all mention of who they took it from. In one instance the policy referred to Victorian state law while the office was in a different state altogether,” Ms Brooks said.

According to Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim, these are the most significant changes to privacy laws in over 25 years.

“The world has changed remarkably since the late 1980s when the Privacy Act was first introduced, and so the changes were required to bring our laws up to date with contemporary information handling practices, including global data flows,” Mr Pilgrim said.

Ms Brooks said while there has already been plenty of noise about the changes, some agents are still under the impression that the reforms don’t apply to them.

“I think a lot of principals are not taking this as seriously as they should. If there is any breach or litigation called against the agency and these non-compliant privacy policies come to light, it can lead to penalties and fines,” she said.

Instead of doing it alone Ms Brooks suggested approaching a legal adviser, a franchise network support channel or state-based real estate institutes.

For information on the changes and how they apply to you, click here or visit OAIC.gov.au.

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