New Zealand Law Society - Passage of Privacy Bill recommended by select committee

Passage of Privacy Bill recommended by select committee

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Parliament's Justice Committee has released a report on the Privacy Bill, with a recommendation that it be passed with amendments.

The bill would repeal and replace the Privacy Act 1993. Its stated purpose is to promote and protect individual privacy.

Among the changes recommended by the committee:

  • Inserting a new clause to make it clear that the bill would apply to any actions by a New Zealand agency, whether inside or outside New Zealand, and also to all personal information collected or held by New Zealand agencies regardless of where it was collected or held and where the person to whom the information relates is located.
  • Providing that the bill applies to an individual who does not ordinarily reside in New Zealand, but who is present.
  • Providing that the bill applies (when accessing law enforcement information) to courts and tribunals in relation to their judicial functions.
  • A number of changes are proposed to the provisions about news media. The bill does not apply to the news media who are excluded to enable them to perform their role of supporting the free flow of information to the public. The definition of "news activity" would be widened to refer to “publishing” news, observations on news, and current affairs, and including a definition of “publish” to make clear that it includes publishing on the Internet. Only media entities which are subject to independent standards of conduct would be exempted.
  • Radio NZ and TVNZ would be brought within the media exemption.
  • A storing or processing agency that uses or discloses information sent overseas for storage or processing on behalf of an agency would be made accountable to an affected individual if it uses or discloses the information for its own purposes.
  • A number of amendments to the information privacy principles are recommended.
  • The committee says it believes the public register privacy principles are outdated and that legislation establishing public registers is able to provide more relevant safeguards around access to information and the circumstances under which information may be withheld. It recommends removal of the public register privacy principles provisions.
  • Expansion of the grounds on which an agency could refuse access to information are expanded to include a serious threat to public health or safety, or to the life or health of any individual.
  • The Human Rights Review Tribunal would be given an express power to close proceedings when necessary to hear and determine an access complaint. Another amendment would give the Tribunal Chair power to make more types of decisions alone.
  • Various changes are proposed to the provisions which require notification of the Commissioner and affected individuals when there have been privacy breaches.