Govt wants Australia's businesses to hand data back to consumers

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Govt wants Australia's businesses to hand data back to consumers

Releases long-awaited response to Harper review.

The Turnbull government will make moves to give consumers the ability to use data collected on them by businesses to make better purchasing decisions, in line with advice of the Harper competition review.

The Harper review of Australia's competition laws, handed down in April, suggested Australia follow the UK's example and create a new market for digital comparison tools that allow consumers to analyse their own data.

The UK government launched its 'midata' initiative in 2011, which encouraged businesses to release customers' own personal information back to them in a standardised, electronic format. The likes of Visa, MasterCard, Lloyd's Bank and RBS have already signed up to the scheme.

Britain's department for business innovation told the Harper committee the data could be used to inform consumer decisions like picking a mobile phone contract based on the individual's past 12 months usage, or identifying ways to save more money by analysing credit card records.

Australia's competition and consumer watchdog, the ACCC, and consumer group Choice both backed the proposal.

The Harper review panel said a working group should be established to work out a way to implement a similar approach, involving common standards for released datasets and an education campaign for consumers.

In its long-awaited response to the review, published today, the federal government said it supported the recommendation and would task the new Australian Council for Competition Policy - which will be born out of the ashes of the National Competition Council - with establishing a working group.

The group will develop a "partnership agreement" that both "allows people to access and use their own data for their own purposes and enables new markets for personal information services", drawing on the UK's lead.

The Productivity Commission will be tasked with reviewing options to improve accessibility to data, the government said.

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