This week in data – 1st March

Centrelink has caused controversy among privacy advocates this week after releasing personal information about a woman’s claims history to Fairfax media to be later dissected in an article defending the department. The individual in question, Andie Fox, had previously written an OpEd criticising Centrelink’s new debt-recovery regime and customer service protocols.

Centrelink have confirmed that they approved Fox’s personal information to be released to Fairfax media in order to ‘correct the public record’ about several inaccurate claims Fox made. Both Fox and the Privacy Commissioner are making enquiries about whether this constitutes a privacy breach and the ethical ramifications of government releasing personal information in order to ‘silence criticism’.

In other news…

ANZ CEO, Shayne Elliot has warned that rushing into the creation of an ‘open data access regime’ for banking customers by July 2018 could create a ‘real risk’ of fraud and that the security and protection if customer data was the top priority of the bank. Speaking at the AltFi Australasia Summit in Sydney, where several fintech groups argued that better data access would allow them to compete more vigorously, Mr Elliott said he supported moves to provide data to customers but suggested more time may be needed to ensure a secure regime was created.

Over in the UK, it has been revealed that 500 patients in England may have suffered serious harm after the NHS misplaced over 500,000 test results and letters between 2011 and 2016. An active investigation is underway to establish whether any patient’s health had been damaged because of the blunder.

Jonathan Ashworth, the UK shadow health secretary, has accused the government of covering up what he called a catastrophic breach of data protection.

“Over half a million patients’ data – including blood tests results, cancer screening results, biopsy results, even correspondence relating to cases of child protection – all undelivered,” Ashworth said. “They were languishing in a warehouse on the secretary of state’s watch.”

WORTH A READ

Researchers at Harvard University have released a playbook for open data initiatives, outlining best practices, examples of what has and hasn’t worked so far, and a thorough checklist of what to consider when embarking on a new data project.

Until next week.

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