Data sharers ‘to get better deals’

On the same day this week that Australians faced the new reality of their medical records going ‘live’ online, the competition watchdog said it wanted consumers to be able to share their other personal data more widely.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is charged with turning the notion of a ‘consumer data right’ (CDR) into a viable instrument, following the Government announcement of the concept last November.

The watchdog will publish a framework paper on the rules around CDR for public consultation in August.

Speaking at a Consumer Policy Research Centre conference on Monday, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the CDR was essentially a data portability right.

“We believe it will enable consumers to actually benefit greatly from the data that businesses already hold about them,” Mr Sims said.

Banking is the first industry designated under the CDR regime and will be followed by energy and telecommunications.

Under CDR, bank customers will be able to safely share data, including transaction and product data, with trusted service providers, Mr Sims said.

“The CDR … will enable consumers to benefit from the data that businesses hold about them. For example, having portable data will allow consumers to make greater use of product or service comparison sites, and to more easily switch their supplier.”

The Government has proposed that all major banks will make data available on credit and debit card, deposit and transaction accounts by 1 July 2019, and on mortgages by 1 February 2020, the ACCC chief said.

“Data on all products recommended by the Open Banking Review will be available by 1 July 2020. All remaining banks will be required to implement Open Banking with a 12-month delay on timelines compared to the major banks,” Mr Sims said.

“International experience, especially in banking, has shown that giving consumers more control over their data increases competition as it gives consumers more scope to compare competing offers, make more informed choices and move their business.

“Data portability increases competition, particularly for more complex products and services, and creates scope for businesses to make more tailored offerings, including to innovate new or different products that better meet their needs.

“There is also a sound economic rationale for the CDR. Markets work more effectively when consumers are well informed about the price and quality of offers available to them; the costs consumers incur when switching between providers are small, and barriers to entry for new providers are low.”

The ACCC will work with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner on privacy matters, Mr Sims said.

“Robust privacy protection and information security will be a core feature of the CDR. The data can only be accessed by trusted parties who have the customer’s consent to access their data.”

Do you feel safe having your data packaged for portability? Do you trust that hackers will not be able to access your personal information?

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Written by Olga Galacho

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