85% of Australians want banks and other businesses to obtain consumer consent before offshoring their data, according to a union poll.
The Essential Poll conducted for the Australian Services Union and the Finance Sector Union found wide support—over 80% across age, gender and voting intention—for more regulation of data offshoring. Only 9% supported businesses storing data offshore without consumer permission.
Most businesses are not required to inform customers where private financial and personal data is stored.
Australian banks, telcos and other businesses are increasingly moving customer data and data management roles offshore to exploit low cost storage and cheap labour overseas. Experts warn this puts Australians' personal data, including credit and financial records, spending data, and even sensitive employment details beyond the jurisdiction of Australian privacy law.
The poll also highlighted significant public concern over the loss of jobs associated with data storage and administration, with 73% supporting government intervention to protect jobs in the services sector. 41% are concerned that they, a family member or friend might lose their job due to offshoring.
"Australians are clearly concerned about businesses offshoring jobs and the data managed by those jobs" said Linda White, Assistant National Secretary of the ASU.
"We've already had significant problems with businesses moving payroll functions overseas, and employee information being lost or mishandled as a result."
FSU National Secretary Leon Carter said that most people aren't aware that the employees with access to their personal financial data may be overseas, and not bound by Australian privacy law.
"Offshoring finance jobs exposes us all to significant data risk, and banks aren't required to inform you of that risk, or ask permission to offshore your data. Australians want the right to know where their data is stored and accessed, and they should have that right." he said.
The poll was jointly commissioned by the Australian Services Union and Finance Sector Union in response to research showing up to 1 million professional services jobs are at risk of being offshored. Clerical, customer service and finance sector jobs are the most at risk.
Spokespeople: Linda White, ASU, 0419 507 809 or Leon Carter, FSU, 0409 946 597
Media: Edwina Byrne, ASU, 0409 017 140 or Leanne Shingles, FSU, 0423 821 773
Visit our Secure Jobs Secure Data campaign page for further details