2 August 2011
Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff today welcomed the release of the Law Commission's report on its review of the Privacy Act, saying it would give business and individuals greater certainty (see links to other associated media releases below).
"The Law Commission's package of reforms would upgrade our 18 year old Privacy Act. It would power up privacy law to meet the challenge of protecting New Zealanders' personal information in the digital age," said Marie Shroff.
"Technology has brought wonderful innovation and opportunity but also real challenges. We need the right tools to do the job. Our law is flexible and its technology-neutral approach has been to our benefit. The recommendations from the Law Commission's review will help to ensure we are able to deal with today's technology and global challenges head on," said Marie Shroff.
The Law Commission's four-stage review looked at privacy values, changes in technology, international trends, and their implications for New Zealand civil, criminal and statute law (www.lawcom.govt.nz).
"This final report marks the end of a major multi-year project. We acknowledge the very high quality work the Law Commission has produced. Our ideas of privacy are being challenged every day. The Law Commission looked at these developments, consulted widely and has recommended some important changes," said Marie Shroff.
Key recommendations include:
- Requiring that people be notified of serious security breaches, so that they can take steps to protect themselves;
- Enabling compliance notices to be issued to stop a business or government agency continuing to flout the law;
- A national 'Do Not Call' register to put a stop to unwanted telemarketing;
- Regulating surveillance, interception and electronic tracking;
- Streamlining privacy complaint processes to get fast results;
- The Privacy Commissioner could direct an agency to release the information that they cannot legally withhold;
- Better processes to tackle systemic problems that affect many people, for instance by using group or 'class action' complaints;
- Narrowing the 'domestic affairs' exemption in the Privacy Act to better protect people from publication of offensive or harmful material online;
- Making companies in New Zealand more clearly accountable if sending information off-shore;
- Better regulating the way personal information is shared between government agencies through approved information sharing programmes.
"The proposed package of reforms would create a modern and effective privacy law. I encourage the Government to implement these targeted and timely recommendations," said Marie Shroff.
The Minister of Justice, Simon Power, has presented the report to Parliament and any proposed legislative changes would be heard through the usual select committee process.
For more information contact: Annabel Fordham 021 509 735.
Note for Editors:
The Stage 4: Privacy Act report, and the other reports making up the Law Commission's review of privacy are available at: www.lawcom.govt.nz