Wednesday, 02 May 2018 06:15

Australia to have national data commissioner

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Australia will soon have a national data commissioner, with the federal government saying yesterday that this was part of its responses to the Productivity Commission's final report into Data Availability and Use.

Additionally, Human Services Minister Michael Keenan said the government was committed to a consumer data right, to allow consumers to harness and have greater control over their data, and a legislative package to streamline data sharing and release.

The data right would be led by the treasurer and offer consumers data access and transfer rights to improve competition and choice. A new data standards body would help collaboration with designated industry sectors, technology firms, consumer groups and privacy advocates.

The new data sharing and release arrangements would address the lack of standardised and transparent approaches to data sharing and release and complicated access processes. A new law, the Data Sharing and Release Act, would formalise arrangements.

Keenan said the National Data Commissioner would oversee and monitor the integrity of Australia’s data system, engage widely with the public; provide guidance to promote technical best practice and ethical uses of data; and drive cultural change towards greater use and re-use of data.

The Consumer Data Right will initially be implemented in the banking, energy and telecommunications sectors. It will be designed to ensure strong privacy protections and security safeguards. The Consumer Data Right will be introduced primarily through changes to the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.

The government also said it would be setting up a network of Accredited Data Authorities as catalysts for efficient and safe sharing and release of data. It will establish a framework to identify those datasets whose availability and use will generate significant community-wide benefits.

Other steps the government plans are:

  • taking a risk-based approach to releasing available publicly-funded datasets;
  • publishing registers of available publicly-funded datasets;
  • developing best practice guidance and standards on data availability and use;
  • working to identify and release high-value datasets;
  • streamlining data sharing arrangements; and
  • monitoring the performance of Australia’s data system.

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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