2. Responsible use and sharing of data and information
We’re producing and storing more data than ever before and now have the tools to analyse the data for the public good. And while most people believe data analysis and technology will be needed to help solve increasingly complex future problems, they are concerned about widening social inequality, loss of human interaction and the potential encroachment on personal privacy and digital security.
Within a digital economy, it’s the role of government to support and enable interoperability of services while giving citizens a single pathway to access all those services. Initiatives are underway to provide visibility of data standards across government and to inform decision-making that drives interoperability and frictionless, seamless data sharing across government and business.
Governments also need to step up their involvement in collaborative information sharing programs so that there is a common understanding of not only what systems are used but how all the information is gathered and shared. The ultimate goal should be the ability of citizens to access one single multi-jurisdictional channel for their service delivery.
There is an opportunity for further data sharing across all levels of government in Australia that focusses on, at minimum, a “tell-us-once” approach. This approach works on the principle that information provided in one part of government can persist across multiple agencies, jurisdictions and programs. For example, integration between services for vulnerable people in Australia could see Federal health agencies interacting and sharing data with the Department of Health and Human Services in Victoria, Service NSW and the Department of Communities and Justice in New South Wales.
New regulatory, legal and governance frameworks are, however, needed to both capitalise on the opportunities and manage the potential risks for citizens. For instance, policymakers will need to take a hard look at issues such as data privacy, surveillance technology, the inequities embedded in algorithms, how organistions are using data in their AI systems, and the integrity of the information ecosystem.
Australia is well underway to deal with privacy and consent-based systems such as CDR. Governments are already strengthening regulations governing the use of people’s personal data, creating legal frameworks that give citizens a level of active control over their data and the right to know what is being done with it.
As an example, the Federal government has recently issued Australia’s Cyber Security Strategy 2020, that aims to “invest $1.67 billion to build new cyber security and law enforcement capabilities, assist industry to protect themselves and raise the community’s understanding of how to be secure online.”
The Federal government is also looking to enhance personal data privacy and security through the Treasury Laws Amendment (News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code) Act 2021. Passed in early 2021, the Act sets minimum standards for how digital platforms make available interactions of user data of the platform service with news content to that registered news organisation.
As more organisations embrace these good practices in ethical design and governance, governments will be better equipped to mitigate risks, safeguard against harmful outcomes and build the trust that is needed to use data to deliver better public policy outcomes.