When you need to get your data off the internet: How to manage privacy in the cloud


More than half of Australians use their internet service provider to store and manage their data, but the government is working on a solution that would give consumers control over what data they share online.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority is looking at a plan to make the data it collects about Australians online more transparent, but it is far from being ready.

“It’s an idea that’s been around for a while but hasn’t quite taken off,” Professor Robert Kyncl, director of the University of Melbourne’s Information and Privacy Institute, said.

“It might be useful for certain people, but a lot of people don’t have a need to have that information in their personal database.”

The proposal has attracted criticism from privacy advocates, who argue that it would be too intrusive and would put too much power in the hands of data collectors.

In a submission to the government, the Australian Data Protection Commissioner argued the changes were needed because Australians were using services such as Facebook, Google and Twitter that “could potentially be vulnerable to manipulation and abuse”.

“It is not just a question of the ability of a consumer to access a particular service or service provider; rather it is a question about the privacy rights of the data subjects,” the submission stated.

The ACT is working with the industry to develop a data protection scheme, but Professor KynCL said that could be “months away” and that the current legislation was “not the most robust”.

“You don’t really want to start a new debate if there’s a very good chance that the proposed legislation will be repealed,” he said.

The bill has been tabled in the ACT Parliament, but there is no indication it will be adopted.