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Media release
24 November 2009


Concern about personal information and privacy issues has grown or remained high, especially in relation to the internet and business, Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff says in her Annual Report published today.

'The past year has seen a marked increase in enquiries and complaints to the Office. There has also been a large growth in media interest in privacy issues,' says Mrs Shroff.

'Privacy issues permeate many areas of business, government and society, and this year's Annual Report reflects that.

'People are concerned about the use and security of their personal information. It could be their personal health information, data being transferred across national borders, information being shared in government, or information used in credit reporting. These are just some topics on an ever-growing list,' Mrs Shroff says.

Mrs Shroff has also issued a wake-up call to public sector leaders to better protect privacy, in the wake of data breaches and surveys indicating that privacy standards are not as good as they should be.

'I strongly urge middle and senior public sector managers to become more focused on data protection,' she says. 'This is a huge area - and it does not appear that government agencies have grasped that. This is the information century; data and its protection are part of our critical infrastructure. People should start seeing information handling as part of a business risk analysis - in just the same way they have policies and practices about health and safety, they need policies and practices about information handling.'

The Law Commission's review of the Privacy Act began in June 2009, and includes a consideration of the current challenges facing data protection, especially arising from science and technology. Final reports are expected during 2010.

View the full report.

View the key points and introduction.

END

For further information contact Cathy Henry 021 509735 or 04 474 7610.

Note to Editor
A change in format to this year's report is that it only includes the past year's information matching programmes activities. To see the full programme information, which includes previous years' activities, go to www.privacy.org.nz/operating-programmes.