Australian consumers will have open access to their banking, energy, phone, and internet transactions and data under new legislation put forward by the Federal Government.
The legislation will look to create a Consumer Data Right, which was one of the recommendations put forward by the Productivity Commission’s report on the inquiry into Data Availability and Use earlier this year, will be rolled out sector by sector.
Under the legislation, which will be put forward next year, utility companies will be required to provide “standard, comparable, easy-to-read digital information that third parties can readily access”. In turn, consumers will be able to more easily compare products and offers.
Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation, Angus Taylor said the Consumer Data Right is focused on the idea the the customer should own their own data.
“It is a powerful idea and a very important one. Australians have been missing out because it’s too hard to switch to something better. You may be able to access your recent banking transactions, or compare this quarter’s energy bill to the last, but it sure isn’t quick or easy to work out if you can get a better deal elsewhere,” he said.
The Productivity Commission recommended that a ‘Comprehensive Right’ to data should allow consumers to, among other things, share joint access to and use of their data with the data holder, receive a copy of their consumer data, request edits or corrections to it for accuracy, and be informed of the trade or other disclosure of consumer data to third parties.
The government is looking further into the viability of, and possibilities stemming from, making banking data available through an open banking regime in particular, in June commissioning an independent review to recommend the best approach to implement such a regime.
Due by the end of the year, the review will explore points including the scope of the banking data sets to be shared, the parties which will be required to share the data sets, and the parties to whom the data sets will be provided, and key issues and risks such as customer usability and trust, and the enforcement of customer rights in relation to data sharing.
With data breaches at various companies and government institutions being discovered seemingly daily, public trust in the collection and sharing of data was an issue brought up by the Productivity Commission earlier this year in its report.
Among the other key recommendations the Commission made in its report was the establishing of a National Data Custodian that would enable a “national focus on data access, ensure ongoing leadership and technical direction for data access in Australia, and withstand changes in governments”.
The NDC, the Productivity Commission explained, would be an individual – supported by a small independent authority – with significant expertise in data; they would not only understand the benefits of data use, but also community attitudes to the use of data and “the importance of maintaining a social license for that data use”.
Looking to generate trust in businesses, Data Governance Australia (DGA) earlier this month launched a new Code of Practice, aimed at self-regulating the practice of data governance across all Australian businesses, that outlines the use, collection, and management of data.
The central tenets of the Code are: no harm; choice; stewardship; honesty and transparency; accuracy and access; security; fairness; accountability; and compliance.
Image: Angus Taylor.