Australians are spending more of their lives online. 87% were active internet users in 2017, more than 17 million use social networking sites, and 84% of Australians are now buying products online. With this growing digital life, large volumes of data about consumers are being collected at an unprecedented rate — in 2013 it was reported that approximately 90% of the world’s data was collected in two years. Collected information is now being amalgamated by sophisticated computing tools and techniques to generate what is called Big Data.
Marketing companies estimate the Big Data software market revenue to be worth $42b in 2018, with 79% of Big Data users suggesting that companies risk being at a competitive disadvantage if they do not utilise Big Data to inform their business practices.
Many benefits can arise from Big Data, including improved public health, stronger fraud detection, improved efficiencies and processes, relevant advertising, and access to more suitable products. However, emerging issues have also been identified, such as consumer profiling and business practices that place consumers at risk of discrimination and exclusion from accessing products and services.
This report discusses some of the known practices of data collection, sharing and amalgamation, the benefits and the potential detrimental impacts for consumers without complementary protections. It also explores opportunities to give consumers greater control over their personal information and ways to preserve their right to privacy.
In particular, we examine the benefits of improving conditions for obtaining genuine consent, implementing Privacy by Design, developing better tools for consumers to manage their data and privacy, including revising consumer protection and privacy legislation.