Data is increasingly available at scale and many of the fastest growing companies are built on data and data analytics. Governments are also increasingly using data for service delivery and to a lesser extent policy development and evaluation. Regulating and managing the increasing availability and use of data by the public, community and private sectors requires new approaches and laws.

In April 2022 the Australian Parliament passed the Data Availability and Transparency Act 2022 which allows Australian Commonwealth bodies to share data. While the legislation and associated regulation is important, so are the levels of community data trust and attitudes to data privacy.

This paper reports data on Australian’s attitudes to data trust and data privacy and how these have changed since October 2018 using data from the ANUpoll series of surveys collected in October 2018, October 2019, May 2020, August 2021 and August 2022. This provides information on how attitudes have changed during the COVID-19 period and during a period of rapid digitisation and increasing availability and use of data. The data shows that trust in key institutions with regards to data privacy increased during the early stages of COVID-19 period, and has stayed high through to mid-2022.

Australians also for the most part think governments should be sharing data with researchers (particularly in universities) and making use of data internally. However, support for such uses of data is slipping. Part of the response to these trends is to make sure that when data is used, it is done so in a way that maximises benefits to society. Collectively, the Australian research and policy community also needs to better understand who is reluctant for their data to be used, why they are reluctant, and what the possible responses and safeguards might be to make better use of such resources whilst still maintaining a social licence.

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