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AFL players call for data protection overhaul as concerns include drug test results – Source: www.theguardian.com

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Source: www.theguardian.com – Author: Jack Snape

A fear of illicit drug test results and psychologist session notes being leaked onto the dark web is helping drive a call from AFL players to improve data collection and storage in the sport.

The leaking of Port Adelaide players’ personal information following a data breach late last year has awoken the industry to the risk of hackers, and the AFL Players Association (AFLPA) issued an urgent plea on Tuesday for an improvement in collection and storage practices.

AFLPA chief executive Paul Marsh said there was a need to protect more than just what is known as sensitive personal data, such as drug tests and medical records. “That’s definitely part of it, but there’s also performance data that can have a direct impact on the next contract that a player signs,” he said.

The issue of storage of AFL players’ data surfaced last November when Port Adelaide reported a data leak. Although personal information of players at the club has remained in circulation online this year, the club found “no personal information which presents a serious risk of data misuse has been involved”.

The Australian Academy of Science released a discussion paper in 2022 that found AFL clubs were collecting more data on players than they actually used and this had “tremendous implications for professional athletes”.

It also warned “the degree of surveillance and monitoring tolerated in this space foreshadows what will be permitted in community sports, other workplaces, and everyday life”.

Julia Powles, an associate professor in law and technology at the University of Western Australia, co-authored that paper and has advised the AFLPA.

Her research has found shortcomings in how information is being collected and handled in the sport. “The minimum requirements of Australian law aren’t being met,” she said. “And they’re not being met because the [data collection and management] deals being made at the league level don’t involve player representatives, and those deals aren’t always catering to the best interests of players.”

Powles also believes the collection and possible leaking of established categories of sensitive information, such as medical records or GPS tracking, wasn’t the only issue the AFL faces.

“We’ve found that when there’s numbers, that gets used as a reason why a particular call has been made to bench a player or to put them through a different kind of training program, but it doesn’t necessarily give you the whole, ‘here’s what that is actually about in the bigger picture’,” she said.

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Powles argued wearables and other new forms of employee tracking were determining the success and failure of careers in the current AFL generation, who were largely unable to contest the conclusions.

To explain how training and wearables data might not be appropriately applied in an AFL context, Powles gave an example of a journalist, who – rather than the quality of their stories – was judged on how many mouse movements they made. “It’s just like, ‘oh, we’re now ruled by metrics’, and that’s a pretty dystopian reality,” she said.

Marsh said the AFLPA has overhauled its information management practices, and an existing review of data governance in the AFL needed to deliver improvements across the sector, including to how confidential information finds its way into the media.

“We have a lot of very sensitive information and we’ve put the right processes around that to try to protect that information as fiercely as we can,” he said. “I’m not saying the clubs aren’t doing the same thing, but this is a timely review given this is a genuine risk for all businesses.”

Original Post URL: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/article/2024/may/14/afl-players-data-protection-leak-breach-drug-test-results

Category & Tags: AFL,Australian rules football,Port Adelaide,Australia sport,Data and computer security,Cybercrime,Sport – AFL,Australian rules football,Port Adelaide,Australia sport,Data and computer security,Cybercrime,Sport

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