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SA CIO: Govt data sharing no threat to privacy

South Australian citizens will soon be asked for their consent to allow government agencies to share their personal information, allowing departments to circumvent privacy legislation.

South Australian citizens will soon be asked for their consent to allow government agencies to share their personal information, allowing departments to circumvent privacy legislation.

"We would offer this as something that people would opt into rather than something that comes automatically -- to deal with privacy issues," Grantly Mailes, CIO of South Australia's Department of Transport, Energy and Infrastructure told ZDNet Australia.

Mailes said he is aware of privacy concerns such an arrangement could raise, adding: "No, we're not sharing customer data without their consent."

Mailes said he expects that many citizens will give their consent when offered the choice and that support for the concept has often been cast in the light of parents who have special-needs children and the data sharing issues which occur should they change their home address.

"Each time the child moves to a new place -- which is mostly run by a government agency -- parents have to lug around huge manila folders," he said.

If the consent-based inter-agency information sharing is introduced, Mailes said it will significantly reduce the cost to individuals of dealing with government.

The decision to offer this choice is part of a wider push to standardise access to government services through call centres, service desks and online. Mailes outlined his vision for the state to an audience of 200 at a government symposium hosted by the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) late last week.

The South Australian Government will introduce a "single sign-on" model to be delivered by 2010, which will see customers signing on just once to access all services offered by the state. Mailes' department will be developing integration protocols and standards to allow inter-agency systems and data integration, which he expects to be functional by the end of 2009.

"The proposition is that government should have the infrastructure and services in place so that citizens only have to 'ask once' of all services required," said Mailes.

"Some implications of this will be areas we regulate, like housing and restaurants. The principle is to find a solution so that business does not need to go to more than one place to do a transaction with government."

Mailes said the South Australian Government will be investing in data matching technologies to help integrate back office systems of various departments, as well as middleware technologies such as identity and access management, to assure its citizens feel secure that their privacy is protected when the information-sharing model is introduced.