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Inside the new ‘Big Brother’-style data agency, he tried to keep a secret

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Inside Daniel Andrews’ new ‘Big Brother’ style data agency, he tried to keep a secret as it monitors EVERY move of Victorians, from how they spend their money to personal health records

  • Victorian Prime Minister Dan Andrews founded 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 ‘pushy’
  • Insights Victoria looked at how residents spend their money and social media

Victorians are monitored by a new secret government agency that collects sensitive and private data and reports directly to Prime Minister Daniel Andrews.

The high-tech data agency was founded in August 2020 during the Covid pandemic, but will continue to operate in a move that the opposition says is deeply troubling.

Insights Victoria looked at how residents spend their money, their social media presence and physical and mental health.

The agency has reportedly received $4.4 million in the latest Victorian state government budget and will continue to report to the Prime Minister, the Sunday Herald Sun reported.

It is clear that the agency uses publicly available information as well as “sensitive” data that is updated seven days a week.

Opposition spokesman David Davis compared the system to a “dystopian society.”

“In the new Insights Victoria with its intrusive and powerful deep-dive IT system, which monitors Victorians’ every digital movement and crosses their personal information, Andrews has more power than Big Brother,” said Mr Davis.

Victorians can have their sensitive information checked by the government from a high-tech data agency created during the Covid pandemic

“It really has the feel of a dystopian society where a man and his office have overwhelming power, backed up by access to unprecedented streams of personal information.

“These are facts and information that Daniel Andrews would rather have kept secret.”

The agency was only made public after a freedom of information request that the government tried to deny.

The site says the data comes from multiple platforms, including “Whole-of-Victorian-Government” (Whole-of-Victorian-Government) departments.

Various levels of government personnel have reportedly been given 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 the maps or graphs provided.

The Victorian government has set up a data analytics department to gauge public sentiment during the pandemic

The Victorian government has set up a data analytics department to gauge public sentiment during the pandemic

A note informing staff about the agency in September 2020 said the system would have a “behavior and sentiments” section that would include “social media sentiments and behavior and attitude surveys” related to Covid.

The note also stated that the system “could evolve to support decision-making between the portfolios outside of Covid-19.”

“Insights Victoria is designed to meet the short-term Covid data needs, but also to be a long-term platform for delivering real-time data, analytics and insights from the Victorian government,” the document reads.

A government spokesman said Insights Victoria “purchases anonymized datasets from private sector partners to provide insights to the government.”

“The data provided is not market-sensitive and will be anonymized,” said the spokesperson.

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