Data sharing regime "open for business" as accreditation begins

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Data sharing regime "open for business" as accreditation begins

Gov agencies, universities now able to become data users, service providers.

Federal, state and territory government agencies and universities can now apply for accreditation under the federal government’s newly-minted data sharing scheme.

However, requests for access to public sector data are not expected to begin until mid-August, when the functionality is added to the digital platform underpinning the regime.

National Data Commissioner Gayle Milnes declared the scheme “open for business” in her first update since the passage of the Data Availability and Transparency Act 2022 (DATA) in March.

DATA creates an optional pathway for agencies to share data for the purposes of service delivery, to inform policy, and conduct research and development.

In doing so, it overrides some 500 provisions in 175 pieces of legislation, making it easier for agencies to share data with each other and universities.

Miles, who took up the commissioner role with the passage of DATA, said government agencies were now able to apply for accreditation as data users through the new Dataplace platform.

Dataplace has been developed as a “single front door” for government agencies and universities to request access to data, and for agencies to respond to request and manage agreements.

“Dataplace is now live. It is our digital platform for scheme participants, and others, to manage data sharing requests and support administration of the DATA scheme,” she said.

“Right now, government agencies can use Dataplace to apply for accreditation as [data] users.”

Universities, meanwhile, will be able to use the platform to apply for accreditation as users from 1 August, she said.

All scheme participants, both federal, state and territory government agencies and universities, are also now able to apply for accreditation as data service providers.

Miles said “more functionality will be rolling out soon, with the data request service opening on 15 August, and the ability to develop data sharing agreements on the platform coming later this year”.

The Office of the National Data Commissioner (ONDC) is now preparing to consult on a number of legislative instruments connected with DATA, including a Data Code.

The code will provide “guidance on how to apply the data sharing principles, privacy protections (consent in particular), the public interest test and ethics, as well as data sharing agreements”.

The National Data Advisory Council provided advice on the draft code at its first meeting for 2022 last month.

ONDC will also consult on a “rule to transition integrating authorities to accredited data service providers under the DATA scheme”, Miles added.

ONDC is also working with 15 agencies to develop data inventories, a program of work that will extend to a further five agencies before the end of this year.

Miles said the work aims to “support Australian government agencies to strengthen their data maturity”.

DATA sat before parliament for two years before passing in March with changes from Labor that sought to address privacy concerns.

The amendments barred foreign entities from becoming accredited under the scheme, and prohibited re-identification of data that has been de-identified.

“In its new form, the bill now essentially removes some of the barriers to data sharing between state and federal governments and Australian universities for specified purposes,” now government services minister Bill Shorten said in March.

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