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Australian Government should respect citizens’ rights to consent to data sharing

Financial Rights Legal Centre is calling on the Australian Government to respect the rights of joint bank account holders to control their own data.

And the government should rescind its proposal to automatically opt Australians in to data sharing under the Consumer Data Right and Open Banking regimes.

These are the key recommendations of an important joint submission to the Australian Treasury led by Financial Rights. Financial Rights Chief Executive Officer Karen Cox said the government’s proposed “opt out regime” for Open Banking data sharing for joint account holders fundamentally undermines the right to affirmative consent.

“Australians want a safe and secure data environment that puts their privacy ahead of the increasingly rapacious desires of industry,” Ms Cox said.

“Treasury’s proposal undermines the privacy rights of citizens and subverts the Open Banking regime’s own requirements to provide Australians with the ability to voluntarily and expressly consent to the sharing of their data with other parties.”

The Treasury proposal means joint account holders will be automatically opted in to sharing their personal financial data if one account holder chooses to engage with Open Banking.

Australians will only be able to prevent such sharing if they engage and turn it off prior to the sharing or stop the process after it has occurred.

“This proposal contradicts basic privacy principles already set out in the Consumer Data Right,” Ms Cox said.

“It runs counter to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s recommendations to strengthen consent requirements and puts the business interests of the FinTech sector ahead of the need to protect consumers’ privacy and security.

“It also poses significant risks to vulnerable people facing  financial, elder or domestic abuse.”

Ms Cox said the proposal would undermine consumer trust in the CDR before it even gets going.

“Consumers – be they joint account holder or not – should be free to decide how much or how little of their information they wish to share in exchange for the use of Open Banking services.”

Read the full joint submission by Financial Rights Legal Centre, Consumer Action Law Centre and the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network on Australian Treasury’s ‘Opt-out’ joint account data sharing model.