Naritas Finance
Daily Bulletin

News

  • Written by Leanne Wiseman, Associate Professor, Griffith Law School, Assoc Director Australian Centre for Intellectual Property in Agriculture (ACIPA), Griffith University
Farms create lots of data, but farmers don't control where it ends up and who can use it

Most of us are familiar with cases of data being used in ways that go beyond consumer expectations – just think of the Facebook Cambridge Analytica scandal.

However this is also an issue relevant to Australia’s agricultural sector. Modern farms create a huge amount of data, but farmers have very little control over the collection, aggregation and potential distribution of that data.

Agricultural data collected by governments, agribusinesses and banks is regulated in a piecemeal fashion, and ends up beyond the reach of the very farmers who generated the data.

There are signs this may be starting to change.

Read more: Royal commission shows bank lenders don't 'get' farming, and rural economies pay the price

Privacy and data rights

On April 4, animal activists engaged in widespread protests that disrupted Australian cities and farming communities.

The next day Federal Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud took the extraordinary step of including Aussie Farms Incorporated – a self-described animal rights charity that publishes a map of farming and animal processing locations – as an “organisation” under the Privacy Act.

Littleproud said:

Federally, we’ve done our bit – we’ve brought Aussie Farms and its attack map for activists under the Privacy Act so that misuse of personal information results in enormous fines.

This is the first time in Australia such collation and publication of farming data has been addressed with a significant legal response.

Read more: Here's why well-intentioned vegan protesters are getting it wrong

It comes at a time when the new consumer data right (CDR) is imminent. This right, soon to be enshrined in new rules developed by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), will provide Australians with greater access to and control over their own data.

On April 15, the ACCC released draft CDR rules for consultation. These are in preparation for the implementation of the first phase of the CDR set for July 1, 2019. The ACCC’s rules set out how the CDR will operate including data sharing and privacy safeguards.

The decision to include Aussie Farms Incorporated under the Privacy Act and the introduction of the CDR feeds into an important conversation about governance and control of Australian agricultural data.

The value of agricultural data

Australian farms generate huge volumes of agricultural data. Examples include the types of crops being grown, crop yields, livestock numbers and locations, types of fertilisers and pesticides being used, soil types, rainfall and more.

This data is typically collected through the use of digital farming machinery and buildings featuring robotics and digital technologies, artificial intelligence, and devices connected to the internet (“internet of things”, or IoT).

Big data, data analytics and machine learning are incorporated into agriculture through electronic livestock tracing systems, electronic weather data, smartphone mapping and other remote sensing applications.

Over the past five years, numerous reports have highlighted the myriad benefits a data revolution can bring to agriculture.

Many think this data revolution will provide an opportunity for farmers to get closer to the consumer, make farms and farmers more efficient, and provide a way for farmers to show banks how sustainable practices lower long-term risk of things like droughts and pests.

Indeed, big data in agriculture is often seen as the solution to the world’s impending food security crisis.

Peacemeal regulation

But a recent review from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics highlights the patchy and fragmented nature of existing government and industry approaches to agricultural data. What that means is Australian farmers are currently not adequately protected from their farm data being collected and used without their knowledge or consent.

Perhaps not surprisingly then, recent research into farmers’ attitudes about sharing their farm data reveals their level of mistrust about the way in which that data may be used or misused. More than 60% of farmers surveyed indicated they had little to no trust in technology providers to maintain their privacy and not engage in unauthorised use of their data.

A strong future for digitally-enabled Australian agriculture needs a data governance framework. Such guidelines must encompass the legal, social and ethical rules we need to protect the agricultural sector, the interests of farmers and farmer privacy.

This latter point is key, as agricultural data is often connected to farmers’ personal information. For example, the location of the farms, or the location of GPS-enabled farming equipment, may be digitally linked to farmer names and financial information.

Within industries, anecdotal stories abound about banks and insurance companies knowing more about the incomes and businesses of farms than the individual farmers themselves.

Towards a solution

Farmers are aware of the changing data landscape, with proposed federal government legislation on data availability and use, and the consumer data right being rolled out across industry sectors. As Shadow Minister for Agriculture Joel Fitzgibbon recently observed:

If given the opportunity, a Labor government will reform the research system and improve data availability. If we want to develop good evidenced-based policy we need more and better data.

Read more: Soft terms like 'open' and 'sharing' don't tell the true story of your data

Yet the problem is that many farmers don’t know if, and under what circumstances, they should share their agricultural data.

We argue that Australian agricultural industries need to urgently address issues such as data sharing protocols and governance arrangements. Perhaps the group best placed to coordinate such activities is the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF).

What should those rules look like?

We have seen attempts to improve the position of farmers against anti-competitive practices of supermarkets through the recent re-appointment of Mick Keogh as Agricultural Commissioner to Australia’s competition watchdog, the ACCC.

In other countries, attempts to improve agricultural data management practices have been administered through the introduction of voluntary agricultural data codes of practice in the US, NZ and now the EU.

Australia’s NFF is currently considering developing an agricultural data code for Australia as well.

But an agricultural data code of practice is just one piece of the large puzzle of how best to protect farmers and their data while maximising the potential for agriculture.

Providing guidance around agricultural data is not just about privacy, but also productivity.

Authors: Leanne Wiseman, Associate Professor, Griffith Law School, Assoc Director Australian Centre for Intellectual Property in Agriculture (ACIPA), Griffith University

Read more http://theconversation.com/farms-create-lots-of-data-but-farmers-dont-control-where-it-ends-up-and-who-can-use-it-115228

Politics

The Coalition will boost support for veterans and their families

SUPPORT FOR OUR VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES   The Coalition will boost support for veterans and their families as part of a $63.2 million suite of initiatives to create Veterans’ Wellbeing Centres...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister interview with Natalie Barr, Sunrise

Prime Minister Scott Morrison joins me now. PM thanks for your time this morning. PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. BARR: Do we have any knowledge as to who is responsible for this devastating attack? ...

Natalie Barr - avatar Natalie Barr

Retirees Question Research for Labor Policies

The Association of Independent Retirees questions the research undertaken by the Labor Party in developing a number of their policies including franking credit refunds, negative gearing and capital ga...

Association of Independent Retirees - avatar Association of Independent Retirees

Business News

Running Your Own Internet-Based Clothing Company

The Internet era has completely transformed the way in which the world works. All industries have been affected by the advent of the web, from local restaurants to multi-billion-dollar international...

Eric Horowitz - avatar Eric Horowitz

HOW REALISING RELEVANCE CAN DRIVE ONLINE SUCCESS

Most of us in business have heard the old adage, “half of your marketing spend is wasted, but you do not know which half”.   We now no longer need that to be true. Why? Well, you see we used to ta...

Drew Bowering, Senior Director of Market Management, Expedia Group - avatar Drew Bowering, Senior Director of Market Management, Expedia Group

MoneyGram and 7-Eleven expand partnership

  MoneyGram (NASDAQ: MGI), a global provider of innovative money transfer services, has renewed its partnership with 7-Eleven Australia for an additional five years, ensuring that consumers continu...

Media Release Service - avatar Media Release Service

Travel

Things to Consider Before Emigrating to Australia

Moving abroad is often a big and an overwhelming decision that can hugely change your life and your future. Therefore, it is important to spend some time considering where you want to move to and rese...

News Company - avatar News Company

The Majestic City of Innsbruck

Innsbruck is the capital city of Tyrol and is the fifth largest city in Austria. It is located in western Austria between the high mountains of Karwendel Alps in the north and Patscherkofel in t...

Nico Hoffmann - avatar Nico Hoffmann

Bedsonline hosts Australian events to celebrate new brand launch

SYDNEY, April 15, 2019 Bedsonline(https://www.bedsonline.com/home/en-na), the leading global provider of accommodation and complementary travel products exclusively for travel agents, has hosted a ser...

Bedsonline - avatar Bedsonline

ShowPo