New data-sharing scheme a threat to privacy and rights

We have called for greater transparency and oversight in the way the Australian Government shares public sector data, ahead of the introduction of a proposed new data-sharing scheme.

Under the draft Data Availability and Transparency Bill, the Australian Government is proposing to allow public sector data, including personal information, to be shared with entities including some government agencies, businesses, non-government organisations or even individuals.

This could include sensitive information, such as Centrelink records and the health records of asylum seekers.

The current proposal does not require individuals to be notified if their personal information has been shared, nor does it require consent in some circumstances.

Decisions about whether information is shared are made by the government agency that holds the information and are not subject to review.

The latest survey by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner found that 70% of Australians consider privacy to be a major concern, with only 36% comfortable with government agencies sharing their personal information.

‘While the sharing of public sector data can be beneficial, the draft Bill fails to protect the rights of people in the most marginalised communities, who are more likely to be affected by the proposed scheme,’ said PIAC Senior Solicitor, Chadwick Wong.

‘Significantly stronger oversight and confidence-building measures are needed before this legislation is passed,’ said Mr Wong.

Read our submission to the Office of the National Data Commissioner.

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