27 November 2017

Consumer Data Right to be introduced in Australia in 2018

This article was written by Patrick Gunning, Hannah Glass and Smriti Arora. 

Yesterday, the Australian Government announced that it will legislate a Consumer Data Right which will initially give consumers access to their banking, electricity, phone and internet transactions.  The new legislation to be proposed in 2018 will require this information to be provided in a standard, comparable, easy-to-read digital format, that can be accessed quickly and simply by consumers and third parties.

The Government’s proposal reflects the Productivity Commission’s recommendation to create a comprehensive right to data which would allow consumers to obtain a machine-readable copy of their own digital data or direct it to be provided to a third party.  The Government’s formal response to the Commission’s inquiry will be published before the end of the year.  You can read our general alert on the Commission’s final recommendations here and find out more about the elements of the comprehensive right to data proposed by the Commission here.

We expect that the proposed Consumer Data Right will eventually apply to individual and small business customers of all businesses, but with a sector-by-sector approach.  Given the specific reference to energy and telecommunications providers in yesterday’s release, businesses in those sectors should familiarise themselves with the Productivity Commission’s recommendations if they have not done so already. Our analysis is available for both the energy and telecommunications sectors.  

The banking sector (also mentioned in yesterday’s announcement) has been grappling with the questions of what data should be made available in this way, to whom, the manner of delivery and the liability issues arising from the provision of banking data to third parties at the request of a customer.  These issues are at the centre of the  Treasurer’s review into Open Banking, which is due to report by the end of 2017.  That review has had the benefit of submissions from a large number of interested parties. 

The Productivity Commission recommended industry involvement in implementation of its proposal.  We will need to see the government’s formal response to the Commission’s recommendations to find out the extent to which the government proposes that participants in each sector of the economy will be consulted before their customers will have a “Consumer Data Right”.

Please note that Scott Farrell, a partner of King & Wood Mallesons, is conducting the Treasurer’s review into Open Banking in a personal capacity. Mr Farrell has not been consulted or otherwise involved in the preparation of this Alert and its contents should not be taken to be connected with that role.

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