Australians want more control over data

Christine McGinn

Australians are putting technology companies and platforms on notice that they won't stand for data breaches and want the government to step in to help them opt out, a new consumer report reveals.

The Consumer Policy Research Centre is due to release a report that reveals Australians feel they have little control over what data they hand over for services or products.

Ninety-five per cent of the 1004 Australians surveyed wanted to be able to opt out of certain data collection practices, according to the the July report released on Monday at a consumer data conference.

More than 70 per cent said they accepted the policies despite not being comfortable with them, as it was the only way to access the service or product.

The report made five policy recommendations; to build consumer trust to participate in the digital economy, give consumers choice and control of data collection, sharing and use, protect consumers' privacy, have greater transparency and access to data profiles, and strengthen regulatory monitoring and intervention powers.

"Australian consumers are tired of being forced by corporations to give away their valuable personal data, just to be able to conduct their daily lives. We don't understand what we're giving away, or why, and it makes most of us uncomfortable," Consumer Policy Research Centre chief executive Lauren Solomon said.

"We are providing a valuable commodity often for little to no return.

"Unless companies find ways to create a more even value exchange with consumers in the future, eventually everyday Australians will demand policy settings - or adopt new technologies - that limit the ability of companies to hold their private data."

More than 90 per cent of people surveyed wanted companies to be transparent about how data might be used to assess eligibility for products and services.

Another 73 per cent of people want the government to ensure companies give consumers options to opt out of providing data, and how it can be used and shared with others.

"If companies won't behave responsibly with our data, we expect regulators to step in," Ms Solomon said in a statement.

She praised the federal government's move to establish the Consumer Data Right, which aims to give Australians greater control over their data, but noted it would be voluntary and only covers certain types of data.

Instead, she called for the same, more stringent, data protections used in the EU and in California.