Productivity Commission wants Australians to be given right to opt out of data collection
The Productivity Commission wants to revolutionise how personal data is collected and handled in Australia.
It is calling on the federal government to create a “comprehensive right” for consumers to give them far greater control over their personal data.
It has released a draft report, Data Availability and Use, calling for a new data framework.
It says Australians need to be given the right to view information held on them, to request edits and corrections, and to be advised of disclosure of their data to third parties.
It says they should also have the right to opt out of data collection in some circumstances and to have a “machine-readable” copy of their data provided that could be passed from one service provider to the next.
“Surprising though it may be to many, individuals have no rights to ownership of the data that is collected about them,” said Peter Harris, the chairman of the Productivity Commission.
“Data is increasingly an asset and when you create an asset you should have the ability to use it, or not, at your choice.
“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. And existing privacy laws would remain in place.”
Harris said a new comprehensive right was crucial because personal data was becoming more valuable by the day.
He said it would be a “big shift in competition policy” if Australians had the right to direct data holders, in both the public and private sectors, to transfer a copy of their information to a third party.
“This will give people and business who want to be active consumers genuine control over their data and will allow innovative businesses and governments the chance to offer those consumers better services,” he said.
“It will increase competition and give businesses and governments strong incentives to handle data better.”
The draft report also warns that Australia is falling quickly behind the UK and New Zealand in its use of data for research and it needs to allow broader and faster access to different datasets for important research and development.
“We saw a number of cases where health researchers were waiting years to access data,” Harris said. “This research led to important changes in treatment processes and literally saved lives.
“In one important research study they still don’t have the data they require and they have been waiting eight years.”
The draft report says regulatory frameworks and protections developed for data collection before sweeping digitisation now need reform.
It wants to introduce a new data sharing and release act, a national data custodian and accredited release authorities that will enable better, smoother access to important datasets.
Submissions on the draft report are due by 12 December.
The final report will handed to the federal government by 21 March, 2017.