We recently discussed the federal government’s proposed Privacy Amendment (Re-identification Offence) Bill 2016, that would make it a criminal offence to re-identify Commonwealth Government data that has been stripped of identifying markers.

Since the bill was announced, it has received criticism from some circles, including amongst the research community, and as we discussed in our previous blog post, many have argued that the focus should be on getting de-identification right in the first place.

Proponents of the bill argue that recent advances to technology mean that methods that were, at the time data is published, sufficient to de-identify data, may become susceptible to re-identification at a later date.

One potential example of this was the recent removal by the Department of Health of a research dataset based on Medicare and PBS claims from its open data portal after it was discovered practitioner details could be decrypted.

Late last year, the bill was referred to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee for comment and on Tuesday, 7 February 2017, the committee released their report. The committee rejected criticism of the bill, saying that it ‘provides a necessary and proportionate response’.

However, members of the committee from Labor and the Greens took a dissenting view, arguing that the bill is not a proportionate response and that it is contrary to the public interest.

Given the current make-up of the Senate, and the apparent rejection of the bill by Labor and the Greens, it will be interesting to see whether the Government is able to have the bill passed into law.

We will, of course, keep you up to date with any developments.