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Independent News For The Australian Public Service
Edition Number 403. Updated Tuesday, 01 April 2014

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Gov't data should be free: Turnbull

The days of Public Service Agencies charging for information could be on the way out if the Minister for Communications, Malcolm Turnbull, has his way.

Addressing a meeting of the Australian Information Industry's Navigating Analytics Summit in Canberra, Mr Turnbull was reported as saying that Open Data should take precedence over Departments' and Agencies' revenue raising needs.

Government News reported Mr Turnbull as saying: "As a matter of principle, I don't think the Government should be charging the public for data.

"Productivity benefits from making data freely available are so much greater than whatever revenues you can generate from them."

The "Open Data" movement contended that the best way to extract the value of Government data was to give it to the private sector and citizens, he said.

Benefits outweigh revenue

"If these insights are harnessed in an intelligent way, and there's no reason they shouldn't be, we have a real opportunity for Government to deliver more accessible and better quality services," Mr Turnbull said in his speech, citing Australian Tax Office data as ripe for exploitation.

But that raised new challenges and maintaining the public's trust in the Government's ability to ensure privacy and security was paramount, he said.

Mr Turnbull said improvements were needed to data retention practices and cross-border sharing, cross-Agency practices, the use of third party data sets, and de-identification of data and the mosaic effect - whereby data that in isolation appeared anonymous could amount to a privacy breach when combined with other elements.

He branded the Australian Securities and Investments Commission's hefty charges for access to its documents as "really regrettable", according to Government News.

"We are committed to working with Agencies to ensure the publication of data becomes a routine Government function," he said.

The full speech is available at this PS News link.

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