Daily Bulletin


The Conversation

  • Written by The Conversation Contributor
image

The Australian Productivity Commission has launched a public inquiry into access and use of public and private data.

The agenda of the inquiry is ambitious in both its timescale and its scope. So much so that it risks failing to achieve anything meaningful.

The inquiry will cover:

  1. Increasing the availability of public and private data sets to others in the public and private sectors
  2. Improving individuals’ access to data that relates to themselves
  3. Standards for the collection, sharing and release of public and private data
  4. Issues around privacy, confidentiality and data security of access

The promise of data

At the heart of the inquiry is the desire to uncover the range and extent of benefits coming out of the increased provision, access and use of this data. These benefits could be anything from better health and lives for Australians to increased productivity and opportunities for private and public organisations.

On the surface, it is quite reasonable to think that there would be positive uses for data coming out of the private and public sectors and even from individuals themselves. We have already seen a huge growth (in hype at least) in the use of “Big Data” being applied to everything from radio astronomy to working out which advertising to show to an individual on Facebook.

Like a number of governments worldwide, the Australian government already believes there is a benefit to open public data and has committed to the publication of open data through services like data.gov.au.

The government has also overseen the formation of Data61 using the combined resources of CSIRO and National ICT Australia (NICTA). Part of Data61’s remit is to look at ways of using Big Data to drive innovation both in the public and private sectors.

Proving the benefits is hard

Evidence for the benefits of having widespread sharing of public and private data has been difficult to come by.

Data-driven innovation, open data and big data have been a major emphasis of research and analysis by the OECD which for the last six years been investigating many of the concepts and issues being covered by this particular inquiry.

The main thing the OECD has shown is the extent of the complexity in all of the aspects of data use. There are technical, commercial, legislative, social, privacy and other issues that cloud every facet of data production and use.

While the OECD has managed to deliver many case studies showcasing the benefits of data publication and sharing, it has been hard to quantify these benefits in any meaningful way. The Productivity Commission’s issue paper highlights two conflicting analyses of the overall benefits of, with one analysis claiming the benefits to be limited.

Not all data are the same

Having an inquiry of this sort may help to continue an ongoing conversation about the production and use of data in society. It is harder to believe that this format of investigation will be able to cover such a vast and complicated area by simply using submissions.

It is possible that the optimism about achieving anything meaningful out of this inquiry is misplaced and a result of the Productivity Commission believing that all “data” is essentially the same.

In this view, data collected by a government department and concerned with land use would be treated in the same way as personal health data collected by doctors and individuals. Clearly this isn’t the case. Different classes of data differ in many ways and are not just different sides of the same coin. One can’t look at personal health data in terms of privacy issues and say that the privacy concerns are the same as land data, differing only by degree. The issues involved are very different and require distinct process, regulation and legislation.

Small steps with data that we could take

There are of course specific things the Australian government could do to foster the use of data that would be to everyone’s benefit. In the health sector for example, Health Minister Sussan Ley has already announced the government’s intention to allow private sector access to information collected by the “My Health Record” system with an individual’s consent.

Private companies like those that manufacture fitness trackers already provide individuals and third parties with access to their data. This has helped foster a more comprehensive health and wellbeing industry with better information and data being provided to the individual’s own data.

Encouraging these sorts of behaviours in other industries would certainly be a positive outcome from this inquiry. The trouble is that because the scope of the inquiry is so broad, tangible understanding of achievable recommendations could be lost.

Authors: The Conversation Contributor

Read more http://theconversation.com/data-access-inquiry-casts-the-net-far-too-wide-57949

Writers Wanted

'Severely threatened and deteriorating': global authority on nature lists the Great Barrier Reef as critical

arrow_forward

'Unjustifiable': new report shows how the nation's gas expansion puts Australians in harm’s way

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Prime Minister Interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB

BEN FORDHAM: Scott Morrison, good morning to you.    PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, Ben. How are you?    FORDHAM: Good. How many days have you got to go?   PRIME MINISTER: I've got another we...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Business News

Nisbets’ Collab with The Lobby is Showing the Sexy Side of Hospitality Supply

Hospitality supply services might not immediately make you think ‘sexy’. But when a barkeep in a moodily lit bar holds up the perfectly formed juniper gin balloon or catches the light in the edg...

The Atticism - avatar The Atticism

Buy Instagram Followers And Likes Now

Do you like to buy followers on Instagram? Just give a simple Google search on the internet, and there will be an abounding of seeking outcomes full of businesses offering such services. But, th...

News Co - avatar News Co

Cybersecurity data means nothing to business leaders without context

Top business leaders are starting to realise the widespread impact a cyberattack can have on a business. Unfortunately, according to a study by Forrester Consulting commissioned by Tenable, some...

Scott McKinnel, ANZ Country Manager, Tenable - avatar Scott McKinnel, ANZ Country Manager, Tenable



News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion