Australia’s Productivity Commission Recommends Overhaul of Nation’s Data Policy Framework

    Dec 12, 2016

    The Australian government’s Productivity Commission held public hearings on November 21 and 28 on a draft report issued in October that outlines the costs and benefits of increasing the availability and use of public- and private-sector data. Among other things, it recommends giving consumers the right to require public- and private-sector data controllers and processers to transfer a copy of their information to a third party. 

    “Surprising though it may be to many, individuals have no rights to ownership of the data that is collected about them,” said Commission Chairman Peter Harris in a press release. “We are proposing the creation of a Comprehensive Right to data control for consumers that would give people the right to access their data, and direct that it be sent to another party, such as a new doctor, insurance company or bank. Plus an expanded right for people to opt out of data-collecting activities.”

    The draft report also calls for enabling broad access to key national interest datasets by replacing national and state legislative restrictions to access and use with new arrangements under a proposed Data Sharing and Release Act. Under such an umbrella legislation, “datasets would be maintained as national assets, access would be substantially streamlined, and linkage with other National Interest Datasets would be feasible.” Datasets that would initially be designated for public release may include key registries of businesses, services, or assets, and data on activity and usage in areas of substantial public expenditure.

    The deadline for public comments on the draft report ended December 12. A final report to the government is expected to be delivered in March.

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