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NSW’s new information and privacy committee for better governance

The NSW Information Commissioner will chair a new information and privacy advisory committee set up by the state government. The committee will ensure that the public sector complies with information governance in the digital age where technology, service delivery and consumer expectations are rapidly changing, she said.

The Committee has the expertise to assist public sector agencies in access to information rights, information protection principles and implementing privacy management plans in ways that account for these challenges, the Commissioner said in a statement.

Customer Service Minster stated that the committee will provide strategic advice to government, and facilitate collaboration across government, industry and academia. It will also advise the Information and Privacy Commission, the Minister for Customer Service, the Attorney General and the Minister for the Prevention of Domestic Violence.

The committee will include experts from data science, technology, business and law, including the Privacy Commissioner and NSW Chief Data Scientist. It will provide the government with information, advice, assistance and training to deliver world-leading information and privacy management practices the Chief Data Scientist said in a statement. The committee will also be able to invite experts with relevant knowledge to contribute their expertise.

According to another article, in addition to the core members, the NSW government said experts in relevant areas may also be invited to attend and contribute as required by the committee. The committee has the expertise to assist public sector agencies in adopting and complying with information governance in a contemporary public sector context, including access to information rights, with information protection principles, and implementing privacy management plans in ways that account for these challenges.

The launch of the committee will add to ongoing efforts the state government has been making when it comes to addressing information privacy.

In June, the state government announced its intentions to stand up a sector-wide cybersecurity strategy, which would supersede the cybersecurity strategy that was last updated in 2018.

The plan to create a new security document followed an AU$240 million commitment to improve NSW’s cybersecurity capabilities, including investments towards protecting existing systems, deploying new technologies, and increasing the cyber workforce. With that funding, it announced plans to create an “army” of cyber experts.

In a vow to keep customer data safe, the state government set up a dedicated cyber and privacy resilience group in October. The NSW Department of Customer Service Secretary, who is the chair of the new group, said at the time that setting up the task force was in response to the cyber-attack the state government suffered earlier this year.

The breach resulted in 73GB of data, which comprised of 3.8 million documents, being stolen from staff email accounts. The breach impacted 186,000 customers. Budget papers revealed in November the cyber-attack would cost Service NSW AU$7 million in legal and investigation fees.

However, this is not the only cyber incident that the state government has suffered. In September, it was revealed information on thousands of New South Wales driver’s licence-holders was breached, with reports indicating a cloud storage folder that had over 100,000 images was mistakenly left open.

Thus, a robust cyber infrastructure is imperative; along with this, the government must develop a comprehensive understanding of information and privacy risks in an era that is growing increasingly digital as a result of COVID-19.

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