Privacy Act review

March 28th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Government plans to overhaul 20-year-old privacy laws following ”huge changes to technology”.

Justice Minister Judith Collins today announced the Government would repeal and re-enact the 1993 following a Law Commission report released last year, which made more than 100 recommendations.

“Our current privacy law has been in place for almost 20 years and predates the creation of the internet,” Collins said.

“Huge changes to technology and information flows have occurred during that time and they have overtaken our privacy laws.”

Collins said people were expecting more information to be available quickly and were more likely to share “private information”.

“The foundations of the Act are sound, but it needs to be updated to reflect our changing attitudes and the way people, business and government use information in the 21st century.”

The Justice Ministry was reviewing the Law Commission’s recommendations and would report back to the Government in September.

Further announcements about specific policy proposals would be made later this year, Collins said.

It is good that the act will be updated, as it is out of date. However I’d encourage people to take a keen interest in the law changes once they are known. Privacy is very important to people, but so is freedom of information and speech and sometimes the two may conflict. Getting that balance right is crucial.

7 Responses to “Privacy Act review”

  1. flipper (5,339 comments) says:

    Why do we need a “Law Commission” when we have a Ministry of “Justice”?

    Requests to the Commission originate in the Ministry. So what is the game?

    Review the privacy laws? Yes.

    The MoJ will take a furtther six months to produce a “draft” of proposed changes? CRAP.

    The MoJ is the same third grade bunch of lawyers that advise Government on everything from pardons, to retrials to liquor licensing. DUMB twits.

    Let’s save money. Either the LC or the MoJ.

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  2. wreck1080 (5,056 comments) says:

    it can only be bad for social media…..

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  3. mikenmild (24,103 comments) says:

    How come it has taken the government six months to decide to adopt some recommendations and it still needs another six months of justice ministry review?

    [DPF: The Law Commission recommends what the law should be. The Justice Ministry has to actually implement it]

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  4. jupiter (8 comments) says:

    We have a Privacy Commission that is essentially hamstrung and impotent, the Commission appears unwilling to deal with privacy issues and has become adept at fobbing off complaints, it seems very A-typical that the Commission is weaken by legislative impediments that give an impression of “this is good”, reform is vital and the entire system needs a kick up the backside

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  5. laworder (419 comments) says:

    The problem with the Privacy Act and the Commission currently is that it is not really all that effective in protecting the privacy rights of ordinary law abiding NZ’ers, but on the other hand is overprotective of those that really have something to hide that should not be concealed from the public.

    This stems from the conflict of privacy and the right to freedom of information and speech that DPF mentions. The core problem is something that is shared with the Justice system and indeed across most of our society, and that is the assumption that those convicted of serious violent/sexual offences have the same rights under law as law-abiding citizens and worse, their victims and/or victim’s families., e.g. the right to sue, privacy rights etc etc. This underlying assumption is the cause of many of the problems victms and others experience not only in our “justice” system but in other government sectors too such as Housing

    A person who shows no respect for the laws that govern a society, or for the basic human rights of other more or less law abiding citizens, especially the vulnerable, such as children and the elderly etc, they should fully expect to forfeit their own rights in proportion to the extent of the consequences of their actions. Due process or privacy considerations should NOT always protect the rights of criminals, especially where the protection of those rights results in the rights of other law abiding citizens being compromised.

    Granting convicted offenders full privacy rights, especially after release into society at the end of a sentence, will result in the victim and their family being unable to ascertain their whereabouts, and being unable to manage their risk to themselves. This results in their feeling very disempowered and unsafe. Yet to make information about offenders freely and publically available will compromise the privacy rights of the offenders.

    These are issue that I strongly hope will be adressed as part of the review, and I will certainly make submissions to it raising them

    Peter J

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  6. Chris2 (924 comments) says:

    laworder – nice informative posting, thank you.

    I would like to see the Privacy Act protections removed from people or organisations that make public claims against the government, knowing that the government is hamstrung by the Privacy Act from fully responding.

    For example, I am thinking of that solo mother who made all sorts of public statements about how miserable the Government was taking away her training allowance but when the Minister of Social Welfare disclosed the woman was already receiving some $700 a week, it was the solo mother who went to the Privacy Commissioner with a complaint that the Minister had breached her privacy. I recall the Commissioner has been trying to get the Government to pay the woman some $10,000 as an ex-gratia payment.

    I think if you go public with these sorts of claims, the Government should have the right to put the full story to the public, so the public can decide for themselves.

    Thank god the Privacy Commissioner has no ability to enforce its findings.

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  7. jupiter (8 comments) says:

    The problem with privacy breaches that the Commission are unable or unwilling to resolve are those covered by Government Agencies who are acting outside of empowering enactments in clear breach of the provisions of the NZ Bill of Rights Act and the Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, Whilst justice must be done it is important that defendants are treated fairly and in accordance with the authority given by our Parliament, without that safe guard we will continue to have high profile cases thrown out on appeal (Thomas/Bain).

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