Open Government Partnership – Australia

2.2 - Build and maintain public trust to address concerns about data sharing and release

Objective and description:

Australia will build public trust around data sharing and release.

We will do this by actively engaging with the public regarding how open data is being used to better communicate the benefits and understand public concerns, and we will improve privacy risk management capability across government.

Status Quo:

In an increasingly complex and interconnected world, effective policy responses require investment in joined-up data that can provide a strong evidence-base for policy decisions.

However, as the volume of data and technical capability to use it increases, we need to better inform the public about the risks and benefits of data sharing and release, and address public views and concerns, including attitudes towards privacy.

It is essential that people’s privacy and personal information is protected in using and sharing data. In some cases it is not appropriate to publish or share certain datasets. The Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) underpins the open data agenda and helps build public trust in data-sharing activities, but there is a need to improve capacity within government agencies to manage privacy risks when releasing data.

In October 2016 the Government introduced separate pieces of legislation to amend the Privacy Act to:

  • make it an offence to deliberately re-identify personal information from open government data;and

  • introduce mandatory data breach notification provisions requiring Australian Government agencies, private sector organisations and certain other entities regulated by the Privacy Act that suffer data breaches to notify individuals whose personal information has been compromised.

Data literacy across the APS is also critical. In August 2016, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet released Data Skills and Capability in the Australian Public Service  to help build skills and knowledge in publishing, linking and sharing public data. The Government will also improve whole of-government de identification processes by releasing guidance on publishing sensitive data.

The Productivity Commission’s inquiry into data availability and use will also consider privacy safeguards and consumer rights over their data. The Government will respond to the recommendations in the Productivity Commission’s report and continue to work with the public to grow the social licence for data to empower citizens and increase transparency over government activities. 

Ambition:

To build trust about the use of integrated data and actively respond to public concerns about data sharing. To comply with international best practice on open data principles and participate in global fora on data. 

Relevance:

This commitment will advance the OGP values of transparency and public participation by:

  • providing greater transparency on how government is using the data it collects and protecting personal information;

  • enabling the public to engage with government and raise issues of concern;

  • enabling experts outside of government to inform public debate; and

  • providing more targeted and effective policy, service delivery and program evaluation.

OGP Grand Challenge: 

  • Improving Public Services

  • Increasing Public Integrity

Timeframes:

December 2016 – July 2018

Lead agency:

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (data@pmc.gov.au), Australian Bureau of Statistics and Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (enquiries@oaic.gov.au)

Other actors involved: 

  • Government - Attorney General’s Department, Treasury, Fair Work Ombudsman, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Department of Social Services, Department of Industry, Innovation and Science and Department of Health, Department of Human Services, Australian Taxation Office and Australian Federal Police, state and territory governments

  • Non-government - Non-government organisations (including Australian Open Government Partnership Network, Open Data Institute Queensland, Open Knowledge Foundation, Electronic FrontiersAustralia, Australian Privacy Foundation, other privacy groups, digital rights organisations), library associations and the public

Milestone:

  • Develop an ongoing and collaborative conversation with the public about the risks and benefits of data sharing and integration:

    • Establish an expert panel to advise government and to help communicate: value and utility of data sharing and integration; how government is using the data it collects; and how government is protecting personal information.

      • Early 2016 - Mid 2017

    • Develop and implement a public engagement process to demonstrate public-value examples and enable an ongoing dialogue with the public.

      • December 2016 - December 2017

  • Improve privacy and personal information protections in using and sharing data:

    • Publicly release a process for government agencies to determine whether sensitive data can be made sufficiently confidential to enable open publication

      • End 2016 - Early 2017

    • Work with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner to improve privacy risk management capability across the Australian Public Service.

      • Commenced - July 2018 (ongoing)

    • Respond to the Productivity Commission’s recommendations on consumer rights and safeguards for data.

      • March 2017 - September 2017

  • Comply with international best practice on open data principles and participate in global fora on data:

    • Adopt the International Open Data Charter and develop a high-level public statement with public consultation.

      • Commenced - March 2017

    • Participate in the International Open Data Stewards Group.

      • Ongoing