Each time we interact with government departments or agencies, our data is collected and stored. As citizens, we understand this is necessary for the better working of government, but also know that our data is valuable and must be treated with care and respect.
We are willing to allow our personal information to be used and shared, but only with the assurance that our privacy will be protected. As government agencies become more interconnected, there is a case for the data they collect to be shared so as to improve how government functions.
Data sharing improves efficiency, allowing the Data Analytics Centre to access data from across government to better assist citizens as they interact with multiple departments and agencies. Data sharing also provides an opportunity to promote evidence-based policy that ensures our limited resources are put to best use.
Despite the case for data sharing, there is currently no legislative framework for how that occurs and that represents a real problem. Creating a legislative framework is important because it clearly spells out the limits of how our personal data is used and provides for greater transparency and accountability because when it comes to our data, protecting transparency and accountability is key.
For those reasons, I share the concern of my colleagues that this bill appears to have been hastily cobbled together, with little public consultation, nor adequate time for parliamentary scrutiny.
There has been confusion as to which agencies data can be provided to. Will the Data Analytics Centre only have access to information, or will government agencies be able to share data amongst themselves? Nor has there been adequate detail on how the bill would work in practice, particularly with respect to data matching across agencies. While I understand the need for the bill, clearly we would all benefit from its proper assessment and scrutiny.
I am most concerned that under the current provisions, the bill will not be reviewed for another five years, which is simply too long for any bill dealing with technology. First, significant technological advances in the next five years will render the bill largely obsolete.
Secondly, regularly reviewing laws pertaining to government use of data ensures there is appropriate and rigorous scrutiny of how the legislation works in practice. It is the best way to ensure our data is used properly and securely, and treated with the care and deference it deserves.
I am proud that a future Labor Government would review Australia's contentious metadata retention laws.
The metadata laws were introduced by the Abbott Government and require internet service providers to store our metadata for two years. The laws also allowed a series of Commonwealth government agencies to access that metadata without a warrant.
The metadata laws do not strike the right balance between protecting Australians and protecting the right to privacy of Australians. I am proud that a future Labor Government federally would indeed review them.
Our lives are increasingly mediated by smartphones and digital technology. We each have a digital life that must be protected. Our metadata, when aggregated, records and reveals much of our lives. Any provision by government to store and access that information must be properly subject to the rule of law and, at a minimum, government agencies must be made to hold a warrant to access it.
The community is rightly concerned about any measure that hands over the keys of their data to governments.
Our right to privacy is not a natural right; it was hard fought and won, and a right that our governments have a duty to uphold. We are only beginning to understand the full extent of our digital lives, and the potential implications and vulnerabilities of storing so much of ourselves online.
While citizens understand that personal data will be collected and used by government agencies, we must ensure that this data is protected and shared only when necessary. A legislative framework is a first step in achieving that goal, but so too is demanding a regular review of the legislation to ensure its proper practical use.
For this reason, I support the amendment flagged by the shadow Minister to require a review two years after proclamation by both the Auditor-General and the Information and Privacy Commissioner. I commend the bill to the House.