Data sharing principles

In this section:

The ‘Five Safes’ is an internationally recognised risk management model that is designed to help identify and manage data sharing risks. Under this framework, data sharing risks are managed across five 'safety' dimensions: people, projects, settings, output and data.

For each of the safe dimensions, there are a set of questions that you should ask the Data Requestor that will help you identify and manage any risks. You can do this by asking them to complete a data sharing request / access form or by having a conversation with them directly.

Safe people: Sharing data only with authorised users

Government agencies may only share data with users who are able to use the data appropriately and keep the data safe.

Safe people in the Five Safes model have the knowledge, skills and incentives to store and use the data appropriately.

To assess whether people are the appropriate recipients for your data you can ask:

  • Are they appropriately equipped and do they possess the relevant skills and experience to effectively use the data for the proposed purpose?
  • Will they restrict data access to only specified persons with the appropriate security clearance/s?
  • Can or will they engage with the agency providing the information to support the use of the data for the purpose?
  • Are other persons or bodies in addition to the agency recipient invested in the outputs of the project and the motivations of those persons or bodies?

Safe settings: Using data only in a safe and secure environment

Government agencies need to ensure that data will only be accessed and used within an appropriately safe and secure environment.

Safe settings in the Five Safes model refer to the practical controls on the way the data is accessed.

To assess whether the environment in which your data will be stored, accessed and used is appropriate you can ask:

  • Is the physical location where the data will be stored and used appropriate?
  • Is the location of any linked data sets appropriate?
  •  Does the agency receiving the data have appropriate security/technical safeguards to ensure data remains secure and not subject to unauthorised access and use?
  • What is the likelihood of deliberate or accidental disclosure or use occurring?
  • How will data be handled after it has been used/shared for the specified purpose?

Safe projects: Sharing data only for appropriate and authorised purposes

Government agencies may only share data for appropriate project, where they are authorised to do so and there are clear public benefits.

Safe projects in the Five Safes model refer to the legal, moral and ethical considerations surrounding the use of data.

To assess whether the projects people want to use your data for are appropriate you can ask:

  • What is the proposed use of the data and is the data necessary for the purpose?
  • Will the purpose of the data sharing or use be of value to the public?
  • Does positive public interest outweigh negative public interest?
  • Is there a risk of loss, harm, or other detriment to the community if the sharing and/or use of the data does not occur?

Safe outputs: Ensuring public outputs from data sharing projects do not identify the people or organisations within the data

Government agencies must put in place clear conditions of access and use to ensure that when results from data sharing projects are released, the identity of the people or businesses that provided the data remains private and confidential.

To assess whether there is any risk in publication or outputs from data sharing you can ask:

  • What is the nature of the proposed publication or disclosure?
  • Who is the likely audience of the publication or disclosure?
  • What is the likelihood or extent to which the publication or disclosure may contribute to the identification of a person to whom the data relates?
  • Will the results of the data analytics work or other data for publication or disclosure be audited and/or will that process involve the provider agency?

Safe data: Applying appropriate protections to the data

Government agencies need to understand how sensitive their datasets are before they can make a decision on whether and how to share the datasets.

To identify whether there are risks of identification in the data, or risks around its quality or sensitivity you can ask:

  • Is the data of the necessary quality for the proposed use (e.g. sufficiently accurate, relevant and timely)?
  • Does the data relate to people?
  • If data containing personal information is to be de-identified, how will de-identification occur and how will subsequent re-identification be prevented?

Last updated: 19 June 2019