The Australian Privacy Foundation has called on the Federal Government to beef up privacy protection “without delay”, starting with legislation that would enable people whose privacy has been wrongly disregarded to take the offender to court and gain compensation.

It says such legislation has been recommended by a succession of law reform bodies, and suggests an alternative move could be to strengthen the office of the national Privacy Commissioner, describing it as “an under-resourced and timid agency that responds slowly and weakly whenever there’s a problem.”

The foundation contrasts the local office’s response to the recent Facebook privacy scandal with that of its New Zealand counterpart.

“It took 15 days for the OAIC to move in response to this privacy train wreck … [whereas] the New Zealand Privacy Commissioner has strongly condemned Facebook for disregarding New Zealand privacy law. New Zealand isn’t frightened of the biggest bully on the social media block. Nor should we.”