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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 2016-18. 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 data incident management manual for data and digital incidents.

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

National Data Advisory Council

In its response to the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Data Availability and Use on 1 May 2018, the Australian Government reaffirmed its commitment to engage with those outside of Government on issues of concern and to enabling experts outside of Government to inform the public debate. As part of the response, the Australian Government announced it would establish a National Data Advisory Council to advise the National Data Commissioner on aspects of its guidance, including ethical uses of data, technical best practice and international developments.

The National Data Advisory Council is intended to provide advice, based on members’ experience and expertise, on proposed public engagement processes, communication approaches and the development of guidance and frameworks for appropriate use and sharing of data.

The Council will comprise cross-sectoral experts across data-driven industries, including community business research, privacy sectors and digital rights groups. The panel will be skills based, and members will ideally have:

  • a strong understanding of Australia’s data landscape
  • an active role within the data industry
  • experience with data related ethical standards
  • professional authority and credibility with relevant private sector entities
  • an understanding of open data and open data standards, and
  • an awareness of international developments in the data space.

On 4 July 2018, the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Transformation opened an expression of interest process for individuals to apply to be part of the Council. Expressions of interest closed on 20 July 2018. There were many very strong applicants from industry, civil society and academic sectors. The applicants are currently being reviewed. The draft Terms of Reference for the Council were circulated to the OGF out of session for information. 

Privacy Code

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) commenced on 1 July 2018.

The Privacy Code strengthens 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 provides 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 face-to-face privacy officer training program, an Interactive Privacy Management Plan and guide, and a Privacy Officer Toolkit, and is continuing to develop resources in consultation with agencies, including a ‘Privacy in Practice’ e-learning program. 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. Together with CSIRO’s Data61, the OAIC also released the De-Identification Decision-Making Framework to assist organisations to de-identify their data effectively.

The Government has also 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 $2.842 million 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. For more information on the DIPA please see Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s website.

Delayed Milestone

Development of an ongoing and collaborative conversation with the public about the risks and benefits of data sharing and integration has been delayed as the commitment has been subsumed into the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Data Availability and Use. In the response, the Government reaffirmed its commitment to engage with those outside of Government and to establish a National Data Advisory Council to advise the National Data Commissioner. An expression of interest process has commenced for members of the Council.

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 Completed but 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 Completed
  • Respond to the Productivity Commission’s recommendations on consumer rights and safeguards for data.
Mar-Sep 2017 Completed but delayed

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

Mar 2017 Completed
Ongoing Completed

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: 12/02/2019

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