07 August 2013

AGIMO Big Data Strategy

AGIMO has released its Big Data Strategy [PDF], foreshadowed elsewhere in this blog

The section on Privacy states that -
The Australian Government is committed to protecting the privacy rights of individuals. Big data raises new challenges in respect to the privacy and security of data. The data management policies of government agencies will always be guided by the applicable legislative controls that already regulate government’s use and release of data sets and information. Agencies will continue to need to comply with these controls for any big data related activities. Maintaining the public’s trust in the government’s ability to ensure the privacy and security of the data stores that it has control over is paramount. This Strategy aims to ensure that this issue remains at the forefront of agency deliberations when they consider developing business cases for big data projects. A number of specific issues around privacy need to be managed if agencies are to realise the benefits that big data can potentially provide, including:
  • better practice in linking together cross-agency data sets; 
  • better practice use of third party data sets; 
  • de-identification and the “mosaic effect”; 
  • the necessary considerations to make before releasing open data; and 
  • data retention and cross-border flows.
Forthcoming guidance will be produced to increase agencies understanding of these issues and provide advice and best practice for addressing these. The use of big data, like any other form of data or information, is subject to a number of legislative controls including the Freedom of Information Act 1982, the Archives Act 1983, the Telecommunications Act 1997 and the Electronic Transactions Act 1999. Agencies also need to comply with the Data-matching Program (Assistance and Tax) Act 1990 wherever Tax File Numbers are used. The use of big data is also regulated by the Privacy Act 1988 which regulates the handling of personal information throughout the information lifecycle, including collection, storage and security, use, disclosure, and destruction.
In an expression of the bland leading the blind AGIMO's vision is -
The Australian Government will use big data analytics to enhance services, deliver new services and provide better policy advice, while incorporating best practice privacy protections and leveraging existing ICT investments. The Australian Government will be a world leader in the use of big data analytics to drive efficiency, collaboration and innovation in the public sector.
The vision supports the following capabilities:
Enhanced services
  • provide better information about service delivery outcomes and inform future models for the provision of these services as well as identifying where gaps exist under current service delivery arrangements; 
  • allow government agencies to better target services to those that need them, thus allowing more efficient and effective delivery of services; and 
  • enable agencies to improve services by tailoring service delivery based on the individual needs of businesses and communities.
New services and business partnership opportunities
  • the analysis of big data is expected to lead to the development of new services based on insights derived from the analytics process; and 
  • industry developments and the maturity of tools and services that utilise big data analytics will create entirely new business opportunities and industries based on using open government data.
Improved policy development
  • support better policy development by strengthening evidence-based decision making and provide more immediate information about policy settings and their impacts.
Protection of privacy
  • incorporate ”privacy by design” into big data analytics projects, and proactively ensure the privacy of the individual’s data and information; and 
  • adopt better practice methodologies that address the potential risk to privacy posed by big data analytics and “the mosaic effect”.
Leveraging the Government’s investments in ICT technologies
  • leverage the Government’s investments in technology such as the National Broadband Network; and 
  • help to lower the cost of entry for big data analytics projects through use of the National Broadband Network in conjunction with cloud technologies.
The Australian Public Service is expected to be guided by Principles "in their approach to big data" -
Principle 1: Data is a National asset
Data sets that government holds are a national asset and should be used for public good.
  • Sharing this data, in accordance with the Declaration of Open Government, and other legislative requirements, will enhance the culture of engagement.
Principle 2: Privacy by design
Big data projects will incorporate ‘privacy by design’.
  • This means that privacy and data protection is considered throughout the entire life cycle of a big data project. 
  • All data sharing will conform to the relevant legislative and business requirements.
Principle 3: Data integrity and the transparency of processes
  • Agencies embarking on the use of big data analytics to deliver improved service delivery are encouraged to seek peer review and conduct public consultation on these projects where appropriate. 
  • Agencies are encouraged to conduct Privacy Impact Assessments (PIA) for any new big data projects and publish these PIAs (or modified versions if necessary). 
  • Each party to a big data analytics project must be aware of, and abide by their responsibilities regarding: the provision of source data and the obligation to establish and maintain adequate controls over the use of personal or other sensitive data they are entrusted with; and/or the management of the project from start to finish and the obligation for its sound conduct, in line with the agreed requirements of the responsible agencies. 
  • These processes will help to strengthen the integrity of big data analytics projects and help to maintain the public’s confidence in the Government’s stewardship of data.
Principle 4: Skills, resources and capabilities will be shared
Skills and expertise in data analytics will be shared amongst government agencies and industry where appropriate.
  • Resources such as data sets and the analytical models used to interrogate them, as well as the infrastructure necessary to perform these computations, will be shared amongst agencies where appropriate and possible to do so. 
  • Big data analytics capability will be strengthened by a Whole-of-Government approach through efforts such as the DACoE.
Principle 5: Collaboration with industry and academia
The industry, research and academic sectors have been working on big data analytics projects for some time and continue to invest heavily in the skills, technologies and techniques involved with big data analysis.
  • Government agencies recognise the research sector as a key partner in delivering insight from big data analytics as well as a key producer and custodian of valuable data collections. 
  • Government agencies will collaborate with industry, academia, non-government organisations and other relevant parties locally and internationally on big data analytics. This engagement will be encouraged by the Big Data Working Group, the Australian Government Chief Technology Officer and the whole-of-government DACoE. 
  • These engagements will leverage private and public sector experience and expertise in big data analytics and increase government agency knowledge and skills in this area.
Principle 6: Enhancing open data
Open data will continue to be enhanced as agencies are encouraged to release information with the objective of outsourcing and encouraging innovation. Government agencies will approach big data analytics projects under the principles on open PSI. These principles rest on the Gov 2.0 premise that PSI is a national resource that should be available and discoverable for community access and use. Government agencies will need to balance these considerations with any conflicting legal obligations (such as those relating to security and privacy).
  • Where appropriate, the results of any government big data projects will be made public and the data sets used or created in the analytical process will be released onto data.gov.au, under open licences, for public consideration and consumption. 
  • Big data analytics will build on the implementation of Gov 2.0. The data.gov.au portal will be enhanced and will continue to serve as the central data repository for discoverable and useable government information.