Consumer Data and the Digital Economy

Report launch and conference

CPRC launched its Consumer Data and the Digital Economy report at the query:data conference on July 16. Download a copy of the report here.

CPRC’s latest research on consumer data has shown a clear lack of transparency and choice for consumers on how their data is collected, used and shared. The report highlighted the need for diversity in skills and strategies for developing economy-wide protection and standards for protecting consumer privacy and enabling genuine choice and consent.

Our national conference brought together 120 of Australia’s leading researchers, regulators, advocates and businesses representatives to discuss the evolving consumer policy and practice landscape across the fields of privacy, competition and consumer law, data ethics, machine learning and open data.

Keynote speakers Mr Rod Sims, Chair of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, and Mr Ed Santow, Human Rights Commissioner, opened discussing the need to investigate the impacts of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) on market competition, consumer choice, and human rights. Mr Sims delivered some welcome news, noting that the ACCC will be taking a close look at the impact of information asymmetry between platforms and consumers as part of the current Digital Platforms Inquiry.

CPRC Chief Executive Officer, Lauren Solomon then presented key findings from the Consumer Data & the Digital Economy report. Including the opportunities and risks of data collection sharing and use, the implications for policymakers and the importance of interdisciplinary teams working on tech and data projects.

Industry experts from Accenture an ANZ discussed insights on how consumer data could drive innovation in businesses practices for more efficient service delivery. They also reflected on the importance of involving consumers in testing to avoid crossing the wrong side of the ‘creepy or cool’ line in innovation.

In the afternoon, leaders from academia and consumer organisations highlighted the importance of protecting consumer’s right to privacy with the following recommendations:

  • Introduce enforceable Human Rights Act in Australia
  • Embed Privacy by Design in the development of systems and projects
  • Encourage regulators to work with technologists to develop checks in software that would be in line with regulation
  • Provide consumers with options on the collection, use, transfer and deletion of their data
  • Provide guidance on business practices ‘Do’s & Don’ts’
  • Develop principles for transparency and code of ethics for algorithms

CPRC also announced the winner of our $100,000 Research Project Grant to a University of Melbourne consortia who will spend the next year exploring the impact of technology and data collection on consumers, with a particular focus on consumer profiling.

A big thank you to everyone who joined us in person for the event, the rich day of discussions could only have been possible with such diverse expertise and engagement in the room.

For those that missed it you can check out more about the proceedings on Twitter using the hashtag #datadialogue18.

Here is Lauren discussing the report findings with ABC News:

Consumer Data Research Network

To further our work in this important field, CPRC has established the Consumer Data Research Network – a network of Australian researchers working on consumer data issues from across the disciplines including: competition & consumer law, data ethics, privacy, machine learning and consumer behaviour.

If you are a researcher, joining the network is a great way to keep abreast of currently policy reform issues and also opportunities to collaborate with others working in the space.

To register your interest, please contact Senior Research & Policy Officer Phuong Nguyen on phuong.nguyen@cprc.org.au.

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