OzTech: Australia’s first data strategy; Australia, US sign CLOUD Act pact; NSW AI Assurance Framework; 6 million registered for myGovID

OzTech Roundup is Computerworld Australia’s weekly look at the world of IT.

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Australia’s first data strategy

The Australian federal government has announced Australia’s first data strategy, focused on maximising the value of data, trust and protection, and enabling data use. The strategy was developed with the aim to support the government in making Australia become a data-driven society by 2030.

While the Australian Data Strategy and accompanying action plan do not introduce new regulations, they align with existing legislation, strategies, policies, and reviews which regulate data, including the Privacy Act 1988, the Freedom of Information Act 1982; the Data Availability and Transparency Bill 2020 (the DAT Bill); and the Consumer Data Right.

In order to maximise the value of data, the strategy recognises the need to improve economy-wide data use and re-use, delivering outcomes for individuals and businesses, and helping governments to deliver outcomes more effectively.

To promote trust and protection the strategy explains how the Australian Government keeps data safe and secure, and how it uses and manages data. The strategy also aims to enable greater use of data by investing in data infrastructure, management, skills and capability.

Australia, US sign CLOUD Act agreement

Australia and the United States signed the CLOUD Act Agreement, which allows law enforcement agencies from both countries access to electronic data for investigations of serious crime, including terrorism and child sexual abuse, according to the federal government.

The agreement still needs to be reviewed in parliament and congress in both countries before taking effect. The Australian government said in a statement that “the agreement also includes strong protections for the rule of law, privacy and civil liberties”.

When both countries announced official negotiations were taking place in October 2019, Digital Rights Watch chair Tim Singleton Norton expressed concern over the announcement.

"It's incredibly worrying to see the Australian government's anti-privacy agenda bleeding into our foreign diplomacy, with the reported negotiations underway in relation to the US CLOUD Act.” At the time Singleton said the draft would require Australian-based cloud providers to hand over data requested by US law enforcement authorities.

NSW AI Assurance Framework

The New South Wales artificial intelligence (AI) assurance framework will come into effect in March 2022, when government agencies will be required to apply the framework for all projects which contain an AI component.

There are a couple of exceptions to the rule, and the use of the framework won’t be required if a project uses an AI system that is a widely available commercial application, and the system is not being customised in any way or being used other than intended.

The framework lays the foundation for appropriate use of AI systems, which in turn means new ways of delivering government services in NSW, according to the state’s chief data scientist, Ian Oppermann.

The Framework follows the AI Strategy announcement in September 2020 and the announcement of the AI advisory committee and its 11 members in March 2021.

In November 2021, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) presented a global standard on the ethics of artificial intelligence (AI) to be adopted by the almost 200 member states, which includes Australia.

6 million registered for myGovID

More than six million people have created a myGovID and are able to use it across 80 government services online, the Australian federal government announced.

The digital ID works like a 100-point ID check and uses myGovID, the Australian Government’s digital identity provider managed by the Australian Taxation Office. The use of the digital identity is optional.

Of the six million registered digital identities are 1.3 million businesses.

In the mid-year economic and fiscal outlook for the 2021-22 budget the federal government announced a further investment of $161 million into the digital identity system.

In August, the federal government accredited Sydney-headquartered OCR Labs as the first private digital identity services provider.

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