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

Overall status:

Australia will build public trust around data sharing and release. We will do this by actively engaging with the public regarding how public data is being used to better communicate the benefits and understand public concerns, and we will improve privacy risk management capability across Government. This commitment aims to build trust about the use of integrated data and actively respond to public concerns about data sharing. It will comply with international best practice on open data principles and enable Australia to participate in global fora on data. 

This commitment will advance the OGP values of public accountability and civic 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 concerns;
  • enabling experts outside of Government to inform the public debate; and
  • providing more targeted and effective policy, service delivery and program evaluation.

Current status

The Government is currently developing a framework to build and maintain public trust and to address concerns about data sharing and release. This framework will ensure alignment across government data and digital initiatives and will go beyond what is committed to in the National Action Plan. Work to develop this framework draws from both research involving public focus groups, and expertise and existing work programs within Government.

The framework is on track to deliver a suite of tools and support for Government to better communicate about its data and digital initiatives. Initial priorities include a communications strategy for data initiatives, including a shared whole-of-government narrative, and a crisis management protocol for data and digital incidents.

Public engagement on government data initiatives is ongoing. In the last two years, there have been public consultations about:

  • the Government’s response to the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Data Availability and Use (see Current status of Commitment 2.1 for further information);
  • the Multi-Agency Data Integration Project (MADIP), undertaken by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS); and
  • Secondary uses of My Health record data by the Department of Health.

The development of this framework, along with work to establish an expert panel to advise Government and help communicate the benefits and risks of sharing data, complements recommendations from the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Data Availability and Use report. In November 2017, the Government announced a consumer data right as part of this response, with the remainder to be released in due course. On the release of the response, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet will further consider its program of work to establish an expert advisory panel following the Government’s response to the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry.

The Department continues to develop Terms of Reference with a recommendation that the panel should include non-government representation from data groups, privacy groups, digital rights organisations, consumer rights groups, industry associations and civil society. Draft aims and purpose of the panel have been circulated with a broader group of agencies for input and were raised at Secretary level, and noted as a work piece that is tied to the upcoming release of the Government response to the Productivity Commission inquiry.

In May 2017, the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet wrote to the Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner to confirm the Department’s commitment to working collaboratively on the development of a new Privacy Code for Australian Government agencies. The Privacy (Australian Government Agencies — Governance) APP Code 2017 (the Code) was registered on 27 October 2017, and will commence on 1 July 2018.

The Privacy Code will strengthen the existing privacy capability of agencies by setting out the minimum requirements that the Commissioner expects of all agencies under Australian Privacy Principle 1.2. It will provide consistency in privacy governance across Australian Government agencies and will play a key role in building trust in the public sector, in supporting the Government’s public data agenda, and in enhancing privacy governance and capability. The Australian Information Commissioner has released a number of supporting resources for the Code, including a Privacy Officer Toolkit, education videos and Checklist, and is continuing to develop resources in consultation with agencies. The Australian Information Commissioner has also recently published a guidance sheet on De-identification and the Privacy Act and a Guide to Data Analytics and the Australian Privacy Principles to help agencies use, share and release data while respecting and protecting personal information.

The Government has undertaken work in 2017 to ensure it complies with international best practice on open data principles, through Australia’s adoption of the International Open Data Charter in March 2017. A letter from Assistant Minister Taylor adopting the Charter is published on the Open Data Charter website. Australia has offered to support the Charter Secretariat as they establish the Charter working groups and test projects over the next 12 months.

Under the 2017-18 Budget announcement for the Data Integration Partnership for Australia (DIPA), resourcing of $2.842m over three years has been allocated to address the need for a social licence from the public for the collection and use of data. This includes funding for consultants to advise on engagement, a group of eminent persons to engage with stakeholders and the public and secretariat support. An update to DIPA’s progress will shortly be published on the PM&C website.

Other stakeholders

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 Open Data Institute Queensland, Open Knowledge Foundation, Electronic Frontiers Australia, Australian Privacy Foundation, other privacy groups, digital rights organisations), library associations and the public.

Steps to implementation

Implementation Step Implementation Period Status

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 Delayed
  • Develop and implement a public engagement process to demonstrate public-value examples and enable an ongoing dialogue with the public.
Dec 2016-Dec 2017 Delayed

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

End 2016-Early 2017 Completed
  • Work with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner to improve privacy risk management capability across the Australian Public Service.
Jul 2018 On-track
  • Respond to the Productivity Commission’s recommendations on consumer rights and safeguards for data.
Mar-Sep 2017 Delayed

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

Mar 2017 Completed
Ongoing On-track

Status updates for commitments are provided approximately every two months. With each update, agencies are encouraged to provide further and better particulars of the commitment and its steps to implementation, which may result in changes to timelines outlined in Australia’s first Open Government National Action Plan 2016-18.

Last updated: 06/04/2018



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