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Further action on Consumer Data Right to support digital economy goals

by Jack Le Guay •
Free resource

The Consumer Data Right (CDR) is an opt-in system for consumers to easily share their data between companies. It has been heralded as a critical piece of digital infrastructure by the Federal government ever since its introduction in November 2017. 

In a speech to the Council for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) on 24 February, Digital Economy Minister Jane Hume said the CDR would allow consumers to shop around for better, personalised deals on products and services and would promote greater competition in sectors such as retail telecommunications and energy. 

Hume said the CDR was essential to unlocking the government's goal of having a "top ten" digital economy and society by 2030, as stated in the Digital Economy Strategy. 

The government has provided $28.6 million in the 2020-21 Budget to continue the CDR’s implementation, particularly in the energy sector, but also in telecommunications and other sectors. 

In February 2019, NTT won a three-year, $5.4 million contract with the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) via the Digital Marketplace, to create the “Consumer Data Right Register IT Solution”. The contract was amended five times to its final value of $45.69 million. 

The contract expired on 25 February 2022 and it is understood that NTT will transition to providing managed services for the Register with any further development work being done by the ACCC, utilising labour hire where necessary. 

The CDR was introduced to the banking sector in July 2020. Uptake has been slow due to a lack of buy-in by consumers with privacy concerns. The concerns linger despite a string of ongoing consultations with public and private sector organisations since 2017.  

Hume emphasised that digital identity sat alongside CDR as a crucial element of the government's vision for the digital economy and services and in this she echoes the statements of successive federal digital ministers Michael Keenan and Stuart Robert who have championed digital identity as the lynchpin to Australia's digital strategy. 

Hume stated that the minimal uptake to date was to be expected, noting the government wanted to get it right and that measurable effects of the impact of the CDR would be far off as the technology has yet to mature. 

She said she believed the market would spur wider usage of the CDR as innovative uses of data are commercialised. Hume said, for example, the system could have implications for her superannuation portfolio. She envisages a future where retirees receive personalised superannuation income plans compiling health, financial, and taxation data. 

Hume would not be drawn on the timing of the roll-out of the "action initiation" – which will allow consumers to switch products through the system - stating only that Treasury has commenced work. 

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner received $1.48 million in funding in the 2018-19 budget to conduct a privacy impact assessment and to ensure consistency with the Privacy Act 1988. The Attorney-General's Department is currently reviewing the Act. 

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