Australian’s concerned about personal data drifting offshore

Offshore storage of our personal data, and our ability to retain control over it have been marked as concerns for Australians using cloud services, according to a poll commissioned by the industry coalition OzHub.

Social networking sites and internet-based email services are hugely popular—used by more than two thirds of Australians—but according to the poll, most of us have little idea where personal information obtained by these sites goes. The research found that more than 80 per cent of users did not know where their data was stored, although 70 per cent said they would prefer their data to be held in Australia.

Matt Healy, chairman of OzHub (a coalition of cloud industry players) is pushing for industry and government to respond to these concerns together. “It is important for the future of the whole industry that consumers are educated and that they are empowered to make informed choices,” he says.

For businesses looking to operate in this space, particularly with cross-border data holdings, long term confidence in the accessibility and management of personal information needs to be managed. Governments of other countries have different and varying legal controls over the storage and accessibility of data. In the poll, 86 per cent of respondents were concerned about who might have access their information in such jurisdictions.

The poll also outlined a view that the government should insist companies seek permission before moving personal data overseas, or at least require cloud service providers to tell consumers where they were going to store personal data.

In particular, 85 per cent of the 1511 individuals polled subscribed to the view that government agencies should store Australians’ data in Australia. Healy says, “OzHub does not argue data should never be sent overseas,” but a high profile loss of Australians’ data from an overseas jurisdiction could be damaging to the industry.

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