- Victorian Premier Dan Andrews set up high-tech data agency during Covid-19
- Insights Victoria uses both publicly available data and ‘sensitive’ information
- Opposition Treasury spokesman David Davis said it was ‘intrusive’
- Insights Victoria looked at how residents spent their money and social media
Victorians are being monitored by a new secretive government agency which collates sensitive and private data and reports directly to Premier Daniel Andrews.
The high-tech data agency was set up in August, 2020 during the Covid pandemic but will continue operating in a move the opposition says is deeply disturbing.
Insights Victoria looked at how residents spent their money, their social media presence and physical and mental health.
The agency reportedly received $4.4million in the latest Victorian state government budget and will continue report to the premier, the Sunday Herald Sun reported.
It’s understood the agency uses publicly available information as well as ‘sensitive’ data that is updated seven days a week.
Opposition Treasury spokesman David Davis compared the system to a ‘dystopian society’.
‘In the new Insights Victoria with his intrusive and powerful deep dive IT system, monitoring Victorians every digital move, cross tabulating their personal information, Andrews has more power than Big Brother,’ Mr Davis said.
It truly does have the feel of a dystopian society where one man and his office have overweening power buttressed by access to unprecedented streams of personal information.
‘These are facts and information Daniel Andrews would rather have kept secret.’
The agency was only made public after a Freedom of Information request which the government attempted to deny.
The site says the data is sourced from multiple platforms including ‘departments across WoVG’ (Whole-of-Victorian-Government).
Different levels of government staff have reportedly been granted either full or limited access to the data. Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton has full access.
People who have access to the system can download and export the data from maps or charts provided.
A note briefing staff about the agency in September, 2020, said the system would have a ‘behaviour and sentiments’ section that covered ‘social media sentiments and behaviour and attitude surveys’ in relation to Covid.
The note also said the system could ‘evolve to support cross-portfolio decision making beyond Covid-19’.
‘Insights Victoria is designed to meet the short term Covid data needs but also be a long-term platform for providing real-time whole of Victorian Government data, analytics and insights,’ the document read.
A government spokesman said Insights Victoria ‘purchases anonymised data sets off private sector partners to provide insights to Government’.
‘The data provided is not market sensitive and is anonymised,’ the spokesman said.