How your personal data could save you money


If information is shared, consumers could make better choices

We should be protective of our personal data, but important changes are afoot that will allow us to be more involved and empowered around its use.

The digital revolution is driving so much change in our economies and societies and there's a comparable consumer revolution.

It's giving us more information on prices, more places to transact and much more choice, but the sheer mass of it all makes it harder to decide.

Hence the availability, sharing and interpretation of data is a key factor in driving this pro-consumer disruption even further than you might imagine.

If you've ever been bored shopping around for better car insurance, sought keener pricing on an electricity tariff or wanted health insurance that suits your needs and pocket, then getting control of your data really helps.

Companies you deal with might know the solutions to these needs better than you largely because they hold the data and regard it as their property.

It's not in their corporate interests to tell you but if you and a helpful third party, such as a comparison site, could access your data, informed choices would be easier and quicker.

The potential value to consumers and business, as well as to innovation, competition and the whole economy, is massive.

The Productivity Commission has just handed down a draft report into data availability which might just let the genie out of the bottle.

It quotes estimates that while 80% of data, such as duplicated photos, might be worthless, less than 5% of the potentially valuable information is ever analysed.

For the first time we would get a comprehensive right to control our data and pass it onto others, who might be competitors of our present providers, to get us a better deal.

For those concerned about privacy, the Productivity Commission says the new rules would give consumers the rights to opt out of data collection as well as view and edit any information held on us by government and business.

The UK and US are ahead of Australia on these data reforms, and it's likely business will push back, but getting control of our own data could make life much easier for consumers.

Christopher Zinn is a consumer campaigner who works in the marketplace of consumer empowerment.


Christopher Zinn is a consumer campaigner who works in the marketplace of consumer empowerment. He runs Determined Consumer.
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