Data privacy and security are very relevant issues and perhaps opportunity for William Light students and alumni in the health and information technology fields.

Fallout from the Facebook/Cambridge Analytic personal data manipulation continues and the impacts globally are only just being felt.

For example most people reading this article will have had messages recently from social media and other internet based services updating their ‘terms and conditions’ and in particular how they manage your personal data.

On 25th May the European Union implemented its ‘General Data Protection Regulation’ (GDPR) Any Australian business having dealings with EU countries will need to comply with the GDPR. The GDPR and the Australian Privacy Act 1988 have many common requirements including:

A privacy by design approach to compliance
Need to be able to demonstrate compliance with privacy principles and obligations
Adopt transparent information handling practices

There are however, some notable differences between Europe and Australia such as the GDPR individuals ‘right to be forgotten.’

Recent Australian data security breaches have highlighted the potentially disastrous consequences of poor security practices and effective privacy strategies. CBA and Page Up are the most high profile breach issues this year with no doubt more to come.

Whilst more effective data privacy and security measures are a fundamentally good thing for the community there are also potential downsides. For example, Australia has possibly the best collection of primary source material on our populations health (via Medicare) compared to most other countries in the world. However the debate about the new My Health Record ‘myHR’ may lead to some fantastic opportunities to improve our health and wellbeing being lost. If you are an IT specialist interested in security and data analytics I would strongly advise you to gain a solid understanding of the issues and policies in this space and there is no doubt that software programmers in this specific field will continue to be in high demand. Similarly, health professionals with an interest in health informatics including clinical informatics will likewise need to be up to speed on data privacy and security.


Greg Black