Many benefits can arise from big data – improved public health, stronger fraud detection, improved efficiencies and processes, relevant advertising, and access to more suitable products. However, emerging issues such as lack of efficacy of privacy policies, an outdated approach to consent and consumer profiling practices increase the risk of poor consumer outcomes.
Reforms internationally and in Australia have implications for consumer privacy protections and control over their data. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation came into effect on May 25, 2018, giving EU consumers greater rights to: data access, data portability, object to certain data uses, rectify incorrect information, and the right to erasure (to have their data deleted).
This full suite of rights is not currently mirrored in Australia. A Consumer Data Right is however, being established to provide consumers with rights to access and transfer certain types of data about themselves to accredited third parties in a machine-readable form. Some advocates have suggested that it would possibly be more accurately defined as a ‘Data Portability Right’.
A nationally representative survey conducted for Consumer Policy Research Centre (CPRC) by Roy Morgan Research suggests a need for an even broader economy data right in Australia. The message is clear – consumers expect businesses to use their data fairly and want action from government to give them greater control and privacy.
The majority of Australians surveyed (95 per cent) wanted business to provide them with more optionality when it comes to what data gets collected, used and shared. Australians surveyed also have a strong sense that data should be used fairly, with 82 per cent opposing businesses practices that could disadvantage consumers, for example, excluding consumers from products or services based on their profile. An overwhelming 92 per cent of those surveyed wanted companies to be more open about how they use their data to assess their eligibility or exclude them from services or products.
Survey results also indicated that consumers expect government to regulate companies by mandating companies give opt out options (73 per cent) and wanted protections for consumers being unfairly excluded from essential products or services based on their data (67 per cent).
CPRC will be releasing a new research report Consumer Data and the Digital Economy at our upcoming conference query:data in Melbourne on 16 July 2018. What’s really important at this stage of the policy cycle, is that we recognise the benefit of bringing together the disciplines and the sectors to explore how data is fundamentally changing our markets.
Business experts, academics and regulators will be participating in a national dialogue on ways to use consumer data to innovate, improve consumer control, and to drive competition. Keynotes include ACCC Chair Rod Sims and Australian Human Rights Commissioner Ed Santow. Leading academics will also be discussing the ethical, legal and human rights considerations on consumer data collection, sharing and use practices.
Tom Burton, publisher of The Mandarin, will also be facilitating the day’s proceedings as MC.