The Federal Labor opposition has urged Attorney-General George Brandis to support its data breach notification bill following his "call to action" to combat identity crime.
The call to action was made at the opening of Sydney's largest technology conference, CeBit 2014, following the release an Australian Institute of Criminology report into identity crime.
It showed that one in 10 people surveyed had experienced misuse of their personal information in the past 12 months.
Senator Brandis said findings "should be a call to action for us all – and not just to redouble our efforts to combat identity crime.”
Shadow attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, has targeted the comments in a bid to garner support for the recent resurrection of the Privacy Alerts Bill 2014.
The bill, which proposes legislation on mandatory notifications for companies suffering a data breach, was re-introduced in March for a first reading by Tasmanian Labor Senator and parliamentary secretary to the Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, Lisa Singh.
The bill is identical to the Privacy Alerts Bill 2013, which failed to be heard on the last day of parliament under a Gillard government.
“If Senator Brandis was genuine in his efforts to prevent identity crime he would support Labor’s Private Senator’s Bill Privacy Amendment [Privacy Alerts] Bill 2014,” Dreyfus said.
“Our bill would make it compulsory for corporations and government to notify Australians if their privacy is breached and their personal details are released without authorisation."
The bill could also force organisations to publish a public statement detailing the breach.
Dreyfus said alerting Australians when their privacy was breached meant consumers had the opportunity to change their passwords, improve security setting, or cancel credit cards.
“In opposition, the Coalition supported the Privacy Amendment [Alerts Bill] 2013 which required businesses and government agencies to tell people when their privacy has been breached,” he said.
“Unfortunately, when given the opportunity the Government failed to support the Bill, and subsequently it has not passed through the Senate.
The government has not made its position clear on the bill, despite previously expressing support for mandatory breach notification.
The last time the bill came up in the House of Representatives, the coalition did not vote against it.
Dreyfus pointed the the "great damage" that could be done when large organisations failed to properly protect private information.
“While the Department of Immigration released sensitive details on thousands of asylum seekers, more recently the ACCC has breached the privacy of subscribers to its product safety and consumer protection alerts,” he said.
“If the Government were serious about protecting Australians from online fraud they would come out in support of our Privacy Alerts Bill and prioritise its passage through Parliament.”