Australia to introduce legislation allowing customers open access to banking, energy, phone and internet data

The Australian Government announced today that it will a national Consumer Data Right, allowing customers open access to their banking, energy, phone and internet transactions.

Australian consumers will be able to compare offers, get access to cheaper products and plans to help them ‘make the switch’ and get greater value for money.

Following on from the Prime Minister’s recent agreement with electricity retailers, and the Treasurer’s open banking initiative, the Consumer Data Right will be established sector-by-sector, beginning in the banking, energy and telecommunications sectors.

Utilities will be required to provide standard, comparable, easy-to-read digital information, that third parties can readily access. New Commonwealth legislation to give effect to these reforms will be brought forward in 2018.

The ultimate objective is to enable Australians to switch from one bank to another, to a cheaper internet plan, or between energy companies, by simply tapping their smartphones.

Assistant Minister for Cities and Digital Transformation Angus Taylor described it as the biggest reform to consumer law in a generation. He said, “Government is pursuing the very simple idea that the customer should own their own data. It is a powerful idea and a very important one.”

“Australians have been missing out because it’s too hard to switch to something better. You may be able to access your recent banking transactions, or compare this quarter’s energy bill to the last, but it sure isn’t quick or easy to work out if you can get a better deal elsewhere,” he added.

The Consumer Data Right was one of 41 recommendations from the Productivity Commission’s Data Availability and Use Inquiry, tabled in parliament in May this year. The Government’s formal response to the inquiry will be published in coming weeks.

In October, Assistant Minister Taylor said that the Australian government is working with industry to develop a standardised set of APIs that must make data easily available to consumers and their agreed third party advocates, as part of the government’s response to the Productivity Commission’s report.

The standardised APIs can be combined with a government-facilitated digital identity that allows providers to accept pre-established identities with high levels of integrity. There would be no more need for many usernames and passwords to access services. Recently, the Australian Government releaseddraft of the Trusted Digital Identity Framework and is seeking public comment on the draft national standards and rules that will frame the Australian Government’s digital identity program.

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