Call to guard data in foreign takeovers
Protecting the personal data of Australians should be a vital consideration in foreign takeovers of local companies, the head of the Foreign Investment Review Board has urged.
David Irvine believes protecting sensitive data is becoming the “issue du jour”, and that personal data must be on par with critical infrastructure such as ports, water and power.
Mr Irvine says an increasing number of foreign investment proposals involve seeking access to data centres which hold sensitive information, The Australian reports.
Takeovers shouldn’t result in circumstances where companies were taking the personal data of Australians “willy nilly and (dumping) it in some foreign storage unit in Hyderabad or Qatar”, Mr Irvine told the Australia China Business Council in Sydney.
The FIRB chief says he’s been at loggerheads with the Critical Infrastructure Centre, which was set up last year to help the federal government protect assets such as ports, water, energy and telecommunications infrastructure.
“I am saying there is another one: it is called data,” Mr Irvine said.
“Because technology is evolving so quickly, our policies are going to have to evolve quickly too.”
Mr Irvine’s comments come after the Morrison government said it would only allow a Chinese company to buy an Australian healthcare giant with defence links if it lines up with the “national interest”.
The federal government last year blocked Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from the local 5G network over security concerns.
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