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Credit checks are private business

A recommendation in the Australian Law Reform Commission’s privacy report calls for more thorough credit reporting, which the Australia Privacy Foundation says will allow business to take advantage of consumers.

Foundation chairperson Roger Clarke called the move intrusive. “What’s sometimes called ‘positive’ reporting and sometimes called ‘comprehensive’ reporting [are] both gloss words which essentially mean significantly more intrusive reporting and data holding about individuals,” he said.

Clarke feared the report gave priority to businesses and government agencies over the privacy rights of the individual.

Lenders, however, welcomed a more accurate picture of a borrower’s financial position. “The current environment clearly demonstrates the need to ensure lending decisions are based on comprehensive quality data,” said Christine Christian, managing director of Dun and Bradstreet. “The ALRC recommendations are a critical step towards achieving this goal.”

The report also recommends simplifying the Privacy Act and advocates uniform principles, legislation against serious invasions of privacy and education campaigns for young people.

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