This week in data – 10th May

It’s a bumper edition of This Week In Data with the release of both the 2017-18 Federal Budget and the final Productivity Commission report into data availability.

Productivity Commission Report

Released on Monday afternoon, the final Productivity Commission report recommends many wide-ranging and somewhat radical data policy shifts which we expect to create huge opportunities for Australian consumers, government agencies and business.

The most-talked about PC recommendation here at Data Republic has been the proposed comprehensive right for consumers.

This would see new powers for consumers and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), to request edits and corrections of data stored on them anywhere, and to have machine-readable copies of their consumer data sent to them or another entity.

According to the Commission, consumer data would include all digital data that is defined as personal under the Privacy Act, any files posted online by the consumer, data from any transactions or activities, and data obtained from third parties on the individual or SMB.

The report said allowing the transfer of data would boost competition and trust in data systems:

“Apart from building social licence through greater opportunity to use data, this right would afford individuals and SMEs more choice about the products and services they consume, and the providers of those, and be an avenue to improve market competitiveness and innovation,” the Commission said.

The PC stopped short of providing recommendations about how this data sharing could be achieved securely and at scale, advocating that participants in each industry are best-placed to develop standards and approaches. Though the technical feasibility and governance implications of this recommendation are somewhat staggering, we’re very excited about what this recommendation means for data innovation and application across Australian society.

In addition to the above – the PC is also proposing a unified approach to government data sharing and legislation to replace all restrictions to access and use contained in existing Federal and State legislation, as well as the creation of new governing authorities for data availability and use.

The budget and banking data

The Productivity Commission recommendations on consumer rights to data were then realised in the Federal Budget overnight when Treasurer Scott Morrison confirmed an “open banking” scheme intended to give customers greater access to and control over their banking data.

It will “empower them to seek out better and cheaper services” Treasurer Scott Morrison said in his budget speech.

“This will be a major change in the way Australians use and benefit from their data, and open the way for better services, more choice of providers and lower prices.”

The open banking regime is set to come into effect in 2018.

Responding to the Productivity Commission recommendations delivered earlier in the week, Westpac Banking Corp chief executive Brian Hartzer said creating standards for data security and determining who was liable for data breaches in an era of greater cyber security risk were among the issues that needed to be worked out.

In other news…

China’s exploding middle class has caused a predictable spike in traffic. Now the country’s ride-sharing giant Didi Chuxing has tarted combining traffic data with information from the traffic police department in Jinan to relieve congestion. Could we see this type of collaboration in countries like Australia as automated driving becomes more popular? Another election, another hack – but this time the media is backing off. French authorities have warned media in the country to not release any information in emails hacked from newly-elected president Macron’s database until after results were known. The warning came just hours before the election was set to begin. Electric car manufacturer Tesla has updated its data sharing policies, saying it needs to collect short video clips from cars to make sure it can help improve automated driving features.


  • The Economist looks at the similarities between oil’s role in the growth of the 20th century economy, and now data in the 21st In particular, this piece tackles a question we at Data Republic are keen on answering: how can you determine the value of a piece of data?

Until next week!

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