Privacy law changes

May 29th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Judith Collins announced:

Significant improvements to our nation’s privacy laws will deliver stronger protections for New Zealanders’ personal information, Justice Minister Judith Collins announced today. …

Key proposals in the reforms include:

Mandatory reporting: Organisations will have to report data breaches to the Privacy Commissioner, and notify affected individuals in serious cases.

New offences and increased fines: Actions such as failing to notify the Commissioner of a privacy breach or impersonating someone to obtain their personal information will be illegal and carry a fine of up to $10,000. Existing maximum fines (for example, for obstructing the Commissioner) will increase from $2,000 to $10,000.

Enhanced powers: The Privacy Commissioner will have new powers, such as the ability to issue compliance notices. The Commissioner’s current power to independently decide to investigate a privacy issue will be enhanced.

Guidance and clarity: The Office of the Privacy Commissioner will provide more guidance about how to comply with privacy laws. Also, technical improvements to the Act will make it clearer and easier to understand.

Ms Collins says the reforms will ensure New Zealand privacy law reflects the digital age and brings us into alignment with our major trading partners.

Recognising the importance of the Privacy Commissioner’s role, the Government recently boosted the Office’s funding by $7 million over four years as part of Budget 2014.

I’m pleased to see the Government adopting the recommendations of the Law Commission. The offence to impersonate someone to obtain personal information is desirable. Also the mandatory breach notifications.

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9 Responses to “Privacy law changes”

  1. Judith (7,591 comments) says:

    Will Ms Collins, as minister of ACC, then be accountable and be sanctioned for the many many breaches of privacy that have occurred under her watch, or will it not be retrospective, and/or not include government agencies?

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  2. Rex Widerstrom (5,259 comments) says:

    You can bet, Judith, that there’ll be enough “do as we say, not as we do” loopholes for the bureaucracy to crochet a shawl with them. There always are.

    Other than that, they’re good changes, and well overdue.

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  3. Nostalgia-NZ (4,910 comments) says:

    Agreed Rex, particularly breach notifications. Maybe the Law Commission will now be asked look into what a ‘Royal Prerogative’ should be and how it can be enshrined in Law with an independent watchdog and no longer be reliant upon the ‘whim’ of a particular Minister on a particular day.

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  4. nasska (10,659 comments) says:

    ….”. Maybe the Law Commission will now be asked look into what a ‘Royal Prerogative’ should be and how it can be enshrined in Law “….

    Do you think that a ‘Royal Prerogative’ should cover serial murderers or just one offs?

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  5. Sir Cullen's Sidekick (786 comments) says:

    Boring….moving on….

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  6. careym (7 comments) says:

    Having been the unintended recipient of another claimants information from EQC.

    I believable it should be made into a zero tolerance, gross misconduct and instant dismissal offence for the person found to have breached the privacy of others, deliberately or otherwise. It would cause a step change in the behaviour of government department employees. And may even weed out a few incompetent union members and lefty leakers from the payroll of various government departments.

    I was going to suggest breaching privacy should trigger a chain of sackings back up to the CEOs of crown entities but that would be too open to manipulation.

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  7. SPC (5,392 comments) says:

    Some reservations expressed here.

    http://norightturn.blogspot.co.nz/2014/05/privacy-not-priority-for-national.html

    Here outright criticism of what the Justice and Electoral Committee reported back on the Harmful Digital Communications Bill.

    http://norightturn.blogspot.co.nz/2014/05/a-committee-of-fuckwits.html

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  8. HC (152 comments) says:

    “Enhanced powers: The Privacy Commissioner will have new powers, such as the ability to issue compliance notices. The Commissioner’s current power to independently decide to investigate a privacy issue will be enhanced.”

    This is total BS, and more white wash of the kind of white wash that I and others have got from the Privacy and other Commissioners. It is bloody time the Commissioners we have, whether Privacy, HDC, Human Rights, Independent Police Conduct Commissioner, and the list goes on, GET SOME BLOODY TEETH.

    The law as it is is only offering too much discretion, little in the way of sanctions or even punishment for those that breach the laws these “officers public” are supposed to oversee, monitor and enforce. New Zealand is a bloody laughing stock, as for rights and laws, we get a “wet bus ticket” “slap on the wrist” treatment all the time, even where there are serious incidents, like under the HDC even life and death cases! All the offenders get is a warning, and at times, very few times, they get referred to the Director of Proceedings, who only acts in few cases.

    The HDC got over 1,600 complaints last year, only about 60 were “officially” investigated, and of those 42 had breaches “established”. So the ACC Act, the law re health and disability, the Health Practitioners Act and what else there is, they all do not provide for sanctions and actions of substance, they all have endless loopholes, gaps and excemption clauses, so in effect, most health and other practitioners in New Zealand get away with malpractice and negligence all the time, and face no real sanctions.

    No wonder we have so many things going wrong, and treatment delivery being flawed and useless. If there is NO enforcement of quality, there will be no controls that have effect, and we have patients being exposed to abuse, experiements and worse 24/7. New Zealand is a basket case in medical law, and it is due to Privacy and other law, that this is allowed.

    Shame on this government, shame on the Privacy Commissioner, shame on HDC and others, to simply continue with the BS, as that extra funding guarantees NADA. It just fills bureaucratic gaps and costs, as the offices have been totally undefunded for years, and as so many cases have been dismissed under questionable reasons.

    I have NO trust in the system in New Zealand, it is abysmal, but most do not know this.

    P.S,: it is due to the total lack of funding that there has been a huge back log of cases building up at the Privacy and other Commisisoner Offices, now the government is only paying extra, to deal with the backlog. I guess the backlog occured due to so many damned breaches happening, of the law.

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  9. tom hunter (4,399 comments) says:

    In the face of things like FATCA, I’m afraid that this does not mean much.

    Some of your details – your bank accounts and financial data – are going to end up in the hands of the IRS because of the incredibly broad definitions surrounding “US person” and “meeting your tax obligations”.

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