11 March 2011
Following the Christchurch earthquake, and the declaration of a state of national emergency, the Privacy Commissioner issued a code of practice on 24 February 2011 to assist in the response.
The code was initially issued to expire with the state of emergency. It has now been given a fixed expiry date to provide greater certainty for agencies and will continue uninterrupted, even if the emergency declaration is lifted, until 24 May 2011.
The Code enables those dealing with the emergency to share personal information to assist victims of the earthquake and their families, and help in the coordination and management of the response.
'Businesses and others have greater flexibility to share information,' said the Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff. 'For instance, a business might have records they think might be useful and want to volunteer. Similarly, a business might be asked for confidential information by authorities or family members.'
Although the Privacy Act already allows disclosure of information for public safety, law enforcement and health reasons, the code provides greater certainty and broader discretion at this critical time.
Note: the Christchurch Earthquake (Information Sharing) Code 2011 (Temporary) Amendment No.1 was issued on 9 March 2001 under section 51 of the Privacy Act 1993, and in accordance with section 52 of the Act.
The Code and the Amendment are available at www.privacy.org.nz
For further information contact Cathy Henry on 021 509 735.