Privacy Commissioner John Edwards has welcomed the introduction of a new Privacy Bill to maintain and further New Zealand’s strong track record of protecting the privacy interests of individuals.
Mr Edwards says privacy law reform is overdue and has become an increasingly urgent issue since the Law Commission made recommendations in 2011 on changes needed to the current 25-year-old Privacy Act.
“I’m pleased the Government has moved so promptly in its term to address the immediate need for stronger privacy protections and enforcement powers. Better privacy and data protection regulation is a growing trend in OECD countries like New Zealand.
“Australia has already undertaken reforms to its Privacy Act and the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is set to take effect in May this year. New Zealand now has the opportunity to develop a more effective and modern privacy framework.
“That the Government has made privacy law reform a significant priority in its busy work programme reflects the privacy concerns of a majority of New Zealanders - something which has been borne out in regular opinion surveys undertaken by my office.
Mr Edwards says his office is committed to providing the Select Committee and the Government with independent assistance and advice as the Bill progresses, and will continue to advocate for the privacy rights of New Zealanders to be strengthened to cope with continuing foreseeable challenges.
The Bill includes stronger powers for the Privacy Commissioner, the mandatory reporting of harmful privacy breaches, and new offences and increased fines. Despite this, the Commissioner will be asking Parliament to give further consideration to additional civil enforcement powers to ensure that New Zealand’s privacy framework is robust, fit-for-purpose and comparable to those of our trading partners.
The Privacy Bill is available here.
For more information, read the Privacy Commissioner’s latest blog post.
Media contact - Charles Mabbett 021 509 735