COVID-19 v Your Rights to Privacy

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Event Details

1 June 2020 at 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm
Online via Zoom


To watch this past event, please click play on the video below:

Old certainties about the balance between data protection and conflicting rights have been lost to the pandemic.

The community is accepting unprecedented restrictions on freedoms and closer surveillance in the name of public health. Trust in science and government has been critical to the community acceptance. For example, millions of Australians have downloaded Australia's 'COVIDSafe' contact tracing mobile app on the assurance by health officials that it will help to combat the virus and trusting the Government's pledge to protect individual privacy.

Work and study from home arrangements have led to the widespread adoption of new technologies that raise potential privacy and security concerns. Employers and education providers are adopting new surveillance practices, and the gathering of personal data has proliferated.

When the crisis subsides, questions will arise as to how the current limitations on our privacy can be scaled back.

In this webinar, a privacy regulator, a legal practitioner, an IT and security expert, and a legal academic will consider what lessons can be learned from the sudden surge in the digitalisation of our lives and how regulation should adapt when we return to the new normal. The panel discussion includes Q & A.


Sven Bluemmel,
Information Commissioner

Sven Bluemmel was appointed as the inaugural Victorian Information Commissioner in September 2017

Prior to his current role, Sven served as Western Australian Information Commissioner for eight years. During that time he was also a member of the State Records Commission alongside the Auditor General, the Ombudsman and a records management expert appointed by the Governor.

Before 2009, Sven held senior positions in the Western Australian Public Sector Commission, the Department of the Premier and Cabinet (WA) and the Commonwealth Attorney-General’s Department in Canberra.

Sven has also served as President of the Institute of Public Administration in Western Australia for three years.

Phil O’Sullivan,
Managing Associate, Allens

Phil O'Sullivan is a cyber security, privacy and data law specialist at Allens, a leading Australian law firm in the tech and healthcare space. He works with clients to implement digital transformation strategies and data strategies, advising them how to stay compliant when using data, and in the event of data loss. He also aids them to quickly and decisively manage data crisis situations and cyber threats.

Phil leads Allens' eHealth group, working closely with their wider TMT and Healthcare sector groups in all aspects of privacy and data for major corporates, scale-ups and start-ups. For three years he has also worked for the Australian Medical Council, advising it on data, privacy and technology issues.

Vanessa Teague, 
Cryptographer CEO, Thinking Cybersecurity Adjunct Associate Professor, Research School of Computer Science, ANU

Vanessa Teague is the CEO of Thinking Cybersecurity and and A/Prof (Adj.) in the Research School of Computer Science at ANU. Her research focuses primarily on cryptographic methods for achieving security and privacy, particularly for issues of public interest such as election integrity and the protection of government data. She was part of the team (with Chris Culnane and Ben Rubinstein) who discovered the easy re-identification of doctors and patients in the Medicare/PBS open dataset released by the Australian Department of Health. She has co-designed numerous protocols for improved election integrity in e-voting systems, and co-discovered serious weaknesses in the cryptography of deployed e-voting systems in NSW, Western Australia and Switzerland.

Dr Normann Witzleb
Associate Professor, Faculty of Law of Monash University

Dr Normann Witzleb is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law of Monash University, a Deputy Director of the Faculty’s Centre for Commercial Law and Regulatory Studies and a member of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law. He has published widely on Australian and international data protection and privacy law, including most recently: Big Data, Political Campaigning and the Law: Democracy and Privacy in the Age of Micro-Targeting (Routledge 2020), with M Paterson & J Richardson (eds). In 2019, he was a consultant to the Australian Attorney-General’s Department, co-authoring an issues paper on automated decision-making in government.