Australia to develop a data security framework


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The Australian Department of Home Affairs has begun work on a new National Data Security Action Plan as part of the federal government’s broader digital economy strategy.

According to Home Secretary Karen Andrews, the action plan will aim to protect citizens’ data — information collected, processed and stored on digital systems and networks — from those who would undermine security.

“In the 21st century, data is a strategic asset. The Morrison government is committed to ensuring that Australians’ data is stored securely so that it cannot be stolen, hacked or held as ransom,” Andrews said.

“As increasing amounts of data continue to flow between all levels of government, industry and the entire community, the Morrison Administration is committed to building a national approach to ensuring data protection wherever it is stored or used.”

In a recently released discussion paper, the Home Office set out its views on the plan, including establishing data security settings and requirements for governments, businesses and individuals that will operate within a framework focused on security, accountability and auditing.

As part of the action plan’s development, the Home Office is also soliciting the views of state and territory governments, businesses and the Australian public on how the federal government can improve the country’s data security.

Among the topics up for public consultation are how the federal government should align with international data protection and security frameworks; how to streamline data security legislative and policy measures to enable companies to meet their obligations in international jurisdictions; whether Australia needs an explicit approach to data localization; how can data security policies be better aligned at all levels of government; and how can the government further support companies to understand the value of data and improve their attitudes towards data security; among other things.

The action plan is another cybersecurity item announced by the federal government ahead of the federal election, with the coalition pledging AU$9.9 billion for a new cybersecurity program primarily aimed at increasing the resources of the Australian Signals Directorate.

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