Data Protection on Your Mind

If your company holds or processes personal data of EU residents, chances are you’re a bit worried about complying with the EU’s incoming General Data Protection Regulation, according to this study.

And things are going to get costly, with Australian businesses expected to spend an average of $1.86m to get themselves GDPR compliant before enforcement begins on 25 May next year.

Not to mention our own notifiable data breaches scheme, gearing up for kick-off on 22 February 2018.



Visa Vanishing Act

For those in the know, changes to the 457 visa programme have been in the pipeline since 2014.

But no one expected to return from Easter long weekend to find the Government had slashed 216 jobs from the skilled occupation list (and caveat 59 other occupations) in a move that has blindsided industry and experts alike, not to mention visa applicants.

If you’re still trying to work through who in your company (or whether you) might be affected, here’s a detailed summary from The Migration Agency’s Sarah Thapa.

In her words:

“There was no advanced warning nor public consultation on the removal of occupations (which is the ordinary process for changes to skill lists). Many visa applicants have lost their eligibility for a work visa overnight, which puts them in quite a tenuous situation…”


Patent Data Reveals Top 50 Postcodes for Australian Invention

Fancy a data-backed 'heat map' pinpointing Australia's hottest locales for innovation, right down to the postcode level?

Well Mark Summerfield has crunched some 35,000 data points on patents (sourced from the rather impressively named IPGOD) to rank the top 50 postcodes for Australian inventors.

Spoiler alert: #1 spot goes to... Epping, NSW.

And while modern communications and IT are said to break down geographic barriers, the analysis tends to still back:

"a correlation between innovation, business growth and proximity to centres of academia and research."


ASIC Releases Regulatory Assessment 'Tool' for Blockchain Services

ASIC has released a regulatory assessment 'tool' for blockchain services.

But don't get too excited and jump in looking for a user-friendly Q&A platform that guides you through ASIC criteria to evaluate to your blockchain application - the 'tool' is actually a list of questions in table format, linking to "Information Sheet 219" for further reading.

Not exactly cutting edge (by design I suspect), but necessary know-how any aspiring FinTech, lawyer or blockchain enthusiast.


Data Breach Confessions of a Reasonable Person

A little trivia:

Q: How many times do the words "reasonable" or "reasonably" appear in the new data breach notification laws?

A: 38, according to lawyer, Peter Moon serving up his take on a recent panel including Telstra's Chief Privacy Officer, Jason Holandsjo and the Australian Information Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim, where Holandsjo:

"doubted that either he or the nation's top privacy watchdog could stand in the shoes of that mythical character the law calls the ordinary, reasonable person."

If not them, then who?


Sorry, Proprietary Companies

After a 15 month marathon, Australia's battered and bruised crowdfunding legislation dodged a DNF and passed the Senate yesterday as a late finisher.

A remarkable feat, depending on your view, considering the bill was missing a leg from the start. Something the Treasurer hopes to fix later on by making the scheme available to proprietary companies, that make up some 99% of Aussie companies:

"The government has asked Treasury to develop a framework for proprietary companies as a key priority, and I would expect that extension of the framework will be introduced through subsequent legislation in the near future."

But for now, it's only for public companies and those Pty Ltds that care to convert themselves and take advantage of a five year grace period from continuous disclosure, AGMs, auditing accounts and providing paper annual reports.

Don't get me started on the five day cooling off period...


Why FinTech Regulators Will Struggle With New Technology Risks

When a company like Goldman Sachs starts calling itself a technology company, it's starting to seem impossible for any financial services regulator/lawyer to rest on knowing the rules of the game, when the game itself is about to fundamentally change, if not already.

Speaking at Macquarie University's financial risk day (via the AFR), NYU Professor David Yermack, said:

"I think we are in for a long period of probably 10 to 20 years, where very radical changes are going to occur in the financial system and regulators all around the world are going to have great difficulty keeping up."

As for Goldman Sachs:

"If you asked them who are their competitors, it wouldn't be Morgan Stanley or Citibank: it would be somebody like Amazon or Google."

Perhaps it's about time firms rebrand their Banking & Finance practice groups to Technology, Banking & Finance.


Copyright Safe Harbour for Australia

Google’s Legal Director, Copyright—Fred von Lohmann sets out Australia’s case for a long overdue copyright ‘safe harbour’ for online services.

A well established principle in US law (and Europe), it’s one of the critical factors that made user generated content platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Snap possible.

In his words:

“The proposed amendment to copyright law is aimed at solving a concrete problem: we don’t want copyright law to make it impossible to create innovative online services, just because a minority of users misuse those services to infringe copyright.”

Submissions closed in Feb. With bated breath, we wait…


Beefing Up Whistleblower Protections

Fed up with lagging behind international standards on private sector whistleblowing, the AICD have called for protections to be significantly expanded.

In summary, it supports:

  • Extending protections to unpaid workers, accountants and auditors.
  • Protections for disclosures made anonymously or through a lawyer.
  • Replacing the ‘good faith’ test with an evidence-based test.

And doesn’t support (for now):

  • Third party (e.g. MPs or media) disclosures.
  • Financial incentives for whistleblowers, such as the so-called SEC ‘bounties’ in the US.

In the words of AICD Chairman, Elizabeth Proust (via The Australian):

“Too many times in Australia we’ve seen whistleblowers suffer the consequences of bringing corporate wrongdoing to light. Often the rest of us have benefited from their disclosure, either as a ­consumer or a taxpayer or a shareholder.”