The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is looking to digitise every single person in the country by 2020, to see if we’re as safe as we think we are.
It’s a move that has already seen the launch of an online database of everything Australians own and use online, and the ABS is now seeking to digitize everything Australians do offline, too.
The project is a collaboration between a group of University of Melbourne academics and a team of researchers working for the Australian Research Council (ARC), and is part of the organisation’s “New Australia”.
The goal is to help researchers find out more about people’s lives and their behaviours.
“A lot of people’s privacy has been invaded through their online habits and their online behaviour,” said Mark Goglia, a professor in the School of Information Technology and Communications at RMIT University and one of the project’s authors.
He said the new online database would help researchers “identify patterns and predict behaviour”.
“It’s also useful in helping to assess the safety of various forms of communication online,” he said.
Goglia said the goal was to have the database of Australians in place by 2020.
In an email to The Australian Financial Review, the ARC said it was “working to digitised every single Australian, with the goal of increasing transparency and public accountability.”
“The data will also allow researchers to analyse and compare how these behaviours are related to the social, economic, environmental and health impacts of these changes,” the ARC added.
Australian Privacy Commissioner Rod Sims said the project was “the first step towards an Australian Privacy Framework” and called on the government to act.
This is not the first time the ARC has attempted to digitisation.
Last year, the agency unveiled a similar initiative, the Australian Privacy Commission, which is aiming to digitify every person, and every single website and application in the nation by 2020 and “ensure the accuracy of the information provided”.
Sims said the agency’s goal was “to provide the public with the information they need about what is happening in their private lives”.
But, he said, the data would also be used by governments, and also be “part of a public database” that would be used to track changes to privacy legislation.
Privacy Commissioner Sims said he hoped that the project would be a success, but also urged people to take a look at the data before committing to buying anything.