A new ‘Comprehensive Right’ will soon be brought into effect, giving individuals and small businesses the ability to know exactly what happens to their data.

The planned reform comes as a recommendation from the Data Availability and Use Report, published by the Productivity Commission as an inquiry into the benefits and costs of increasing the availability of data within the public and private sectors.

The report found that while data is beginning to be used to benefit the community, the challenge for the government surrounds creating trust among the public for Australia to participate in new global data frameworks.

“Community trust and acceptance will be vital for the implementation of any reforms to Australia’s data infrastructure” stated the report. “These can be built through enhancement of consumer rights, genuine safeguards, transparency and effective management of risk.”

As a result, the Comprehensive Right for Consumers has been introduced to increase transparency between the public and the government and allow for the free flow of data between custodians.

“The Commission is recommending that Australia’s consumers — both individuals and small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) — be afforded a new Comprehensive Right to the use of their digital data.

“Consumer data must be provided on request to consumers or directly to a designated third party in order to exercise a number of rights, summarised as the Comprehensive Right to access and use digital data,” explained the report.

This would give consumers the opportunity to share in perpetuity joint access to their consumer data, receive a copy of their consumer data, and request edits or corrections if the data is inaccurate.

Consumers would also be informed of the trade or disclosure of their data to a third party and be able to direct the transfer of data either to an individual or a nominated third party.

It is also envisaged that increased consumer control of data will “regenerate markets and widen service choices” by reinvigorating competition policy.

The new right would be overseen by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), as part of the new Data Sharing and Release Act (DSR Act).

“Although we would have preferred to find solutions that are non-regulatory, it is a clear conclusion of the Inquiry that legislative change is needed to implement the Commission’s recommended reforms.

“This change primarily involves the creation of new Commonwealth legislation – a new Data Sharing and Release Act – that would apply to all digital data,” the report said.

The Commission recommends that Australia follow an ambitious timeline and work towards passing the DSR Act by the end of 2018

New South Wales and South Australia have already created similar legislative frameworks, with the Commonwealth yet to do so.