The new Consumer Data Right set to give greater access to information

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has recently released the eagerly awaited draft Competition and Consumer (Consumer Data) Rules 2019.

According to the ACCC,

“the Rules provide guidance on the implementation of the Consumer Data Right (CDR) and how data can be requested”.

The CDR was introduced in the Treasury Laws Amendment (Consumer Data Right) Bill 2019 (the Bill) which was put before the House of Representatives on 13 February 2019. While it’s yet to be passed, we thought it wise to consider what the new CDR Regime (the Regime) has in store for businesses and what (if any) new access rights consumers will have.

The Bill introduces the Regime which is designed to give both individual and business consumers expanded rights of access to data than those which exist currently with the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (Privacy Act) and other data laws.

The Regime proposes to:

  1.  enable consumers to request CDR data relating to themselves, from businesses (in *certain sectors of the Australian economy);
  2. ensure businesses provide efficient and convenient public access to information on products the business offers; and
  3. direct an existing service provider to share information with other service providers.

*applying first to the banking industry and then being rolled out across the energy and telecommunications sectors before broad application to all industries.

According to a statement in the Explanatory Memorandum, the CDR:

“is designed to give customers more control over their information leading, for example, to more choice in where they take their business, or more convenience in managing their money and services”.

If passed, the Bill will amend the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) to introduce a new consumer data right, separate from the rights a person has to information under the Privacy Act. The Bill will come before parliament after the federal election on May 18.

As the CDR extends to information relating to businesses as well, it goes beyond the scope of Australian Privacy Principle 12, which only applies to an individual’s personal information.

The ACCC released the Rules in readiness for the pilot CDR Regime applying to the banking sector in July 2019. From July, the ACCC and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner will work together to regulate the Regime (in pilot form).

With data protection and privacy laws developing globally at such a fast pace, the CDR serves as another development aimed at better protecting data and information. This new right for consumers, if made law, will be applied across different industries in a phased approach.

As confirmed previously by the ACCC, it welcomes “$20 million in the Federal Budget over the next four years to oversee its implementation”. Given the imminent federal election, only time will tell if the investment is upheld and this new consumer data right given life.

This Article was written by Eloise Preller, Associate – Commercial.