PIAC has joined a number of civil liberty organisations in raising concerns about a new data sharing scheme proposed by the Australian Government.
Under the 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 most marginalised groups, including people with a disability, First Nations people and asylum seekers will be most at risk by the proposed law. These communities are more likely to access government services, such as income support and public health services and and disproportionately subject to corrective services or detention,’ said PIAC Senior Solicitor Chadwick Wong.
In April, Mr Wong joined representatives from the Law Council of Australia, the NSW Council for Civil Liberties and the Australian Privacy Foundation in giving evidence before the Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee hearing, raising concerns about the lack of safeguards in the proposed scheme.
The Committee has now issued a joint recommendation that additional guidance regarding privacy protections should be considered by the Government.
In a dissenting report, Labor Senators said that the Bill was ‘deeply flawed’, ‘violates community standards about the protection of private data’ and if passed, ‘would erode public trust in the government’s ability to protect the privacy of its citizens.’
‘The Government needs to heed the warnings from civil liberty groups and fix the privacy concerns in this Bill before proceeding,’ said Mr Wong.
‘This is now the third Parliamentary Committee which has raised privacy and human rights concerns, after the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights and the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills.’
‘Significantly stronger oversight and confidence-building measures are needed before this legislation is passed,’ said Mr Wong.