Privacy Bill faces clear path to law after second reading

Monday 12 August 2019

Authors: Tania Goatley, Kristin Wilson and Julius Hattingh

​​​A bill to mo​​dernise New Zealand’s privacy laws has finally concluded a protracted second reading and is now all but sure to be voted through to the final stage and pass into law without any major hurdles.

The second reading of the Privacy Bill, which began on 18 June, and continued on 30 July finally came to an end on Wednesday 7 August. The Bill originated in recommendations made by the Law Commission in 2011, and has since gone through as many as 45 iterations. But broad consensus across the political spectrum, that it represents a necessary update to New Zealand laws in an increasingly data-driven world, suggests its path is now clear.

Here are the key takeaways from Wednesday’s reading:

  • The Select Committee was persuaded by public submissions to change the threshold of the mandatory reporting requirements. It is clear there has been significant public interest in the mandatory notification scheme, which was the focus of 85 of the 162 total submissions on this Bill. The Bill now states notification would now be mandatory where there is a risk of serious harm as a result of the breach. On 30 July, National had signalled unhappiness with the requirement, noting that even though it has been raised, in their view it remains too strict.

  • The Select Committee raised the issue of compatibility between the New Zealand Bill and the recently enacted GDPR in Europe, noting that these efforts on privacy will bring New Zealand into line with the perceived EU ‘gold-standard’. Such compatibility is an important aspect of the Bill as it offers key compliance efficiencies to international businesses.

  • The news media exemption was also discussed, with both Labour and National agreeing firmly that the freedom of news organisations to “gather the news fearlessly and in a forthright manner” should not be curtailed by the Bill. That exemption has been broadened to apply to internet publications, books, and to both Radio New Zealand and Television New Zealand (who were previously not included in the “news media” exemption due to their state broadcaster roots).

Parliament is now due to vote on the Bill. If passed, the Bill will be sent to the Committee of the House, and may receive final changes (although we do not anticipate these will be material). The Bill will then have its final reading, before it becomes law. We will continue to follow any developments closely.

If you have any questions about the matters raised in this article, please get in touch with the authors or your usual Bell Gully advisor.​


This publication is necessarily brief and general in nature. You should seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the matters dealt with in this publication.

For more information
  • Tania Goatley

    Partner Auckland
  • Laura Littlewood

    Partner Auckland
  • Rachael Brown

    Partner Wellington
  • Kristin Wilson

    Senior Associate Auckland
Related areas of expertise
  • Privacy and data protection
  • Information, communications and technology
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  • Cyber security
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  • Media