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Big Data, Big Opportunities, Big Privacy

Australia's Info Commissioner offers guidance on Big Data management


27 April 2017

The use of big data is growing across a wide range of sectors including artificial intelligence, fintech, biotech and marketing. However, businesses must be diligent about how data is collected, used and stored throughout the entire information lifecycle.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has developed a draft Guide to Big Data to help companies meet their obligations under the Privacy Act of 1988. It states a need to focus on the following:

  • Embed a culture into the business so that privacy is designed into new products or projects rather than added afterwards;
  • Establish robust and effective privacy practices, procedures and systems and continually evaluate them;
  • Learn from big data activities, privacy complaints, breaches and customer feedback;
  • Be proactive and anticipate future challenges.

The guide also highlights matters that businesses should consider when they are using big data. These include:

  • Personal information must be collected directly from the individual unless it would be unreasonable or impracticable to do so;
  • Where information is collected from a third party, the business should make sure that the third party complies with its privacy obligations and that the individual is given appropriate notice;
  • A business may solicit and collect personal information that is reasonably necessary for the functions or activities of the business. This may pose some difficulties for the big data concept of using "all the data" for "unknown purposes;"
  • Ensure that any personal information that the business collects, uses or discloses is accurate and complete. Given the nature of big data, a business may need to carry out rigorous steps to ensure the quality of personal information;
  • Destroy or de-identify personal information the business holds once the personal information (including archived copies) is no longer needed for the primary purpose of its collection.

To read more on Australia's approach to big data and privacy, click here.