Brendan Dowling

Head of Product, dentsu Australia

You have most likely seen a lot of coverage in the press recently on the proposed reforms to the Australian Privacy Act. Matt and I put our heads together and prepared a summary for you that is intended to cut through the noise and give you the facts.


  • The “Commonwealth’s Privacy Act review was published on the 16th of February 2023. This is the culmination of two years of extensive consultation. Full report, 230 pages is here for those of you who like to get into it. It’s a long read.
  • This report among many other things suggests that to realise the benefits of data-driven technology, greater privacy protections are needed.
  • These proposed reforms are not being looked at through the lens of advertising alone. This is far broader and focusses on bringing transparency to our clients’ data collection practices, use of data, retention of data and consumers’ rights with their data.

What happens next:

  • The Attorney-General is currently taking submissions on the report’s proposals until 31 March 2023.
  • Draft legislation is likely to be circulated during 2023.
  • It is possible that an amending act could pass the Parliament this year, with changes taking effect as early as the end of 2024.

What we know:

There is a lot of noise in the media releases (a few are included below). To be clear – nothing has passed into law, and at best will not until the end of 2024.

A few items that could impact marketers include:

  • Using an individual’s personal information for targeted advertising without explicit consent may be prohibited. Meaning many will opt out.
    • This has the most important implication on how agencies work with digital media partners. Partners that have gained consent to use customer data, such as those that have logins with privacy policies that permit this should be largely unaffected.
    • Partners which are currently gathering and selling data without capturing express consent from consumers are in the firing line. Location-Based audience sellers are specifically called out as needing consent to gather location data moving forward. 
    • This means walled gardens should be largely unaffected, but location providers may lack serious scale through deterministic data in the future.  It is worth auditing how digital partners on your plans are gathering consent for their targeting, and to begin to move away from those that are not gathering consent.  
  • Penalties for data breaches and negligence could increase significantly.  Again, this is bigger than paid digital advertising alone. Most likely due to the data breaches seen towards the end of last year. These fines could go from $1.2M to $50M for each breach. Marketers are likely going to be increasingly mindful of any tracking and tagging placed on their sites moving forward, and who they share their customer data with.
  • Organisations may be required to make consumer data accessible and ensure they can delete consumer data on request.

How dentsu can help marketers understand and be prepared for any reforms before they are enacted

  • Dentsu can leverage our combined media and CX capabilities to review a brand’s CXM strategies and what technologies they use to collect and store customer information, deploying and embedding new technology when appropriate (such as CDPs).
  • For digital media selection, we can help clients prepare for a cookieless world, by working with trusted cookieless media partners and moving away from those that don’t.
  • When dentsu builds media products, we take privacy very seriously, which is why “Privacy by Design” is a core principle that underpins the way we think about our products. As an example, merkury was developed to ensure whatever happens with the Privacy Act, we will continue to provide the targeting and measurement capabilities our clients expect.
  • Dentsu’s Digital Maturity consultancy framework is a useful way to audit existing technology infrastructure, offering technology re-platforming solutions, developed with privacy at its core. This could include CDP or GA4 deployment, for example powered through merkury

If you have any questions, want to discuss any approaches or simply how to help prepare, reach out.

Authors: Brendan Dowling and Matt Benning