Australian data protection laws to be benchmarked in Data Availability inquiry

In conducting its Data Availability and Use inquiry, the Productivity Commission will examine how Australia's data and privacy protection compares to other jurisdictions.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

The Australian Productivity Commission will report next year on the benefits and costs of improving the availability and use of data.

Not only will the commission look at public sector data, it will also look at data in the private sector.

The terms of reference for the inquiry say the commission will identify private sector datasets that would be useful for the community at large, and will examine laws that restrict the availability and increase the cost of accessing these datasets.

Australia's data protection laws, privacy principles, and protocols will be compared to other "leading jurisdictions" as part of the inquiry.

"[The commission should] consider the merits of codifying the treatment and classification of business data," the terms state.

The commission has also been tasked with looking at standardising the collection, sharing, and releasing of private and public data.

Since the Australian government announced its AU$1.1 billion National Innovation and Science Agenda in December, it has already released the Australian Geocoded National Address File (G-NAF) and Administrative Boundaries datasets.

"With the release of the G-NAF, Australia becomes one of only a few countries in the world to make national geocoded address data openly available," said Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation Angus Taylor in February. "The opportunities this represents to Australia's economy are significant."

Updated versions of the data are scheduled to appear quarterly.

The commission has until March 21, 2017, to provide its report to the Australian government after public consultation and the public release of a draft report.

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