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Australia: ACCC publishes report highlighting consumer's lack of awareness over data collection practices

On May 21, 2024, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) published its latest report as part of its inquiry into digital platform services. In particular, the report analyses the awareness that consumers have of the collection, storage, and processing practices of firms that do not have a direct relationship with the consumer or individual from whom the data is collected.

Overview of the report

Among other things, the report highlights the importance of consumer data to the digital economy and analyses international data broker regulations. The report also delves into how data is generated and collected, categorizes data products and services in Australia, and examines firms supplying these services. Further, the report outlines potential harms arising from the misuse of consumer data and explores the market dynamics of data firms, including their interactions with digital platforms.

Consumer awareness

The report notes that consumers are generally unaware of how much of their data is collected, used, and shared with data firms and other businesses. The report observes that data collection practices do not align with consumer expectations, based on a 2023 consumer study that found that 74% of Australians are uncomfortable with their personal information being shared with or sold to other companies.

Recommendations

In the report, the ACCC recommends the following privacy measures that can be implemented to better empower consumers and protect their data:

  • introducing the right for an individual to have any of their personal information erased;
  • expanding the scope of the definition of personal information; and
  • introducing a 'fair and reasonable' test for the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information.

You can read the press release here and the report here.