The OAIC has the dual roles of protecting the privacy of individuals and promoting open government. Often government agencies are concerned about the privacy implications of releasing data to the public. A potential solution to this issue is to de-identify the data or information so that individuals cannot be identified. De-identification can also allow researchers to share and publish the results of their research, and provide increased privacy protection when sharing information between different sections of a business.
The OAIC has developed a draft agency and business resource to provide guidance to agencies, researchers and the private sector about the following topics:
- What is de-identification?
- Why you should de-identify information.
- When to de-identify information.
- How to de-identify information.
- Assessing the risk of re-identification.
More Australians than ever are using mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, not only for communication for also for social networking, internet access, gaming, photography, location information, and many other things. Mobile devices contain increasingly large amounts of personal information — personal information which may be accessed by the apps we download.
We trust that apps won’t misuse our personal information and that of our friends (for example, that they won’t collect, use or share personal information they don’t need) and that we’ll have the chance to have a say in how our information will be used.
But are all app developers aware of the steps they should take to protect our privacy?
To help mobile app developers protect our privacy, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has produced a consultation draft guide, Mobile privacy: A better practice guide for mobile app developers (PDF) (RTF)
Although the Guide is aimed at app developers, the office welcomes comments by other interested parties and members of the public.
You can post your comments here on the blog or you can email your ideas to email@example.com.
Further information about the consultation can be found on our consultations page.
The period for comments on the draft has been extended until Monday 13 May 2013.
Dr James Popple is the Freedom of Information Commissioner
Charges under the FOI Act have long been a point of discussion, as seen in the recent Review of charges under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Charges Review). Without pre-empting the Government’s consideration of, or response to, the Charges Review recommendations, this post will discuss the relationship between FOI requests and costs since the FOI Act was enacted in 1982.
In several recent presentations, including at the May 2012 joint meeting of the Information Advisory Committee and the Privacy Advisory Committee, I’ve used this graph to demonstrate the relationship between the number of FOI requests, the agency costs attributed to the FOI Act, and the actual fees and charges collected:
A similar graph was included in Part 1 of the Charges Review, based on statistics collected from agencies and ministers and published in FOI Annual Reports each year. The data behind the graph is available at the end of this post, along with a PowerPoint version of the graph which uses transitions to illustrate each new set of data as it is plotted on the graph. Read more
Professor John McMillan is the Australian Information Commissioner
It is vital, in applying charges under the Freedom of Information Act 1982, that a proper balance is struck between the right of individuals to request access to government information and the resources required by agencies and ministers to respond to those requests.
I have now released on the OAIC website the Review of Charges under the Freedom of Information Act 1982, which was provided to the Attorney-General in February 2012. The report makes nine recommendations for reform. The FOI charges review began in October 2011, and included successful consultation with applicants and agencies about the impact of the current charging regime on the operation of the Act.
The OAIC website contains the full list of submissions to the review. Submissions from applicants stressed the need to minimise cost barriers, and to ensure that the charging framework under the Act does not shift to a full cost recovery basis. Agencies, on the other hand, highlighted the need to simplify FOI charges, and that the scale of charges under the Act had not been altered since their introduction in 1986. A consistent theme in many of the agency submissions involved the useful role charges can play in initiating a discussion with applicants to reduce broad requests to a more manageable level.
The review puts forward four principles to underpin a new FOI charging framework:
Support of a democratic right: Freedom of information supports transparent, accountable and responsive government. A substantial part of the cost should be borne by government.
Lowest reasonable cost: No one should be deterred from requesting government information because of costs, particularly personal information that should be provided free of charge. The scale of charges should be directed more at moderating unmanageable requests.
Uncomplicated administration: The charges framework should be clear and easy for agencies to administer and applicants to understand. The options open to an applicant to reduce the charges payable should be readily apparent.
Free informal access as a primary avenue: The legal right of access to documents is important, but should supplement other measures adopted by agencies to publish information and make it available upon request. Read more
Professor John McMillan is the Australian Information Commissioner
Communicating information to the public is a major tool and activity of government. But how effective are current efforts to make public sector information (PSI) open? Can people easily find and use the information they need? And is this sharing of information producing real social and economic benefits for the community?
The OAIC asks these questions in a new Issues Paper, Understanding the Value of Public Sector Information in Australia. To answer them, we need a way to value PSI and to assess the impact of publication. We suggest that, as a first step, both government agencies and reusers of PSI complete a survey on the publication and reuse of PSI. The responses to this survey will help the OAIC develop a methodology for valuing PSI, as recommended by the Gov 2.0 taskforce.
We received a great response from the community when we developed our Principles on Open PSI earlier this year. We would like to invite you to join us again in building a better understanding of a critical national resource – public sector information.
The OAIC welcomes comment by 31 January 2012 on three issues:
• The ideas presented in this Issues Paper: does the paper propose a workable approach for mapping the PSI landscape and developing a methodology for valuing PSI?
• The draft survey form in the Appendix to this paper: is the survey form appropriately framed to address the right issues and gather useful information?
• The literature survey in Part 4 of the paper: does this survey adequately cover the field, and are their gaps or limitations in the existing research?
To get involved you can post comments here on the blog or you can email your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org. Further information about the consultation can be found here.
The Australian Information Commissioner has been asked to review charges under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act). The terms of reference are available on the Minister’s website.
As part of the review, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has released a discussion paper which sets out:
- the scope of the review
- the background to the charging framework
- the current charging regime under the FOI Act
- a snapshot of the estimated costs of processing FOI requests against fees and charges collected
- an overview of charging practices in other Australian and overseas jurisdictions.
The discussion paper also includes a list of questions to further explore the issues surrounding the role of charges under the FOI Act.
The OAIC will be accepting written submissions until 21 November 2011. Submissions can be made via email@example.com or to GPO Box 2999 Canberra ACT 2601.
Consultation sessions will be also held in Sydney and Canberra. Please see our Consultations page for further information.