The Government plans to proceed with an overhaul of New Zealand’s 20-year-old
Privacy Act, the Justice Minister announced yesterday.
This is a long-awaited development following an initial statement by the
Justice Minister two years ago that the Government planned to repeal and
re-enact the Privacy Act. The proposed reform will aim to make significant
improvements to privacy law, and deliver stronger protections to personal
A specific timeframe for the introduction of the Bill has not yet been
announced. The Government intends to commence the process by carrying out
targeted technical consultation.
A core focus of the reform will be updating the Privacy Act to reflect
advances in technology since the Privacy Act came into force and to accommodate
developing technology in future. The Minister highlighted that methods by which
personal information is collected, stored and shared by businesses and
government agencies has changed dramatically since the Privacy Act came into
It is anticipated that the reform will also be based on the recommendations
of the Law Commission in its report on the Privacy Act in 2011. The Law
Commission’s report called for a wide range of reforms, including:
streamlining the complaints process, allowing for groups of people to bring
introducing new powers for the Privacy Commissioner, including the ability
provide guidance on how to comply with the Privacy Act;
make binding decisions on complaints where a person’s request for information
about him or herself has been refused; and
order an agency (through issuing a compliance notice) to fix business
practices that breach the Privacy Act;
introducing mandatory notification obligations to report a data breach to the
Privacy Commissioner and the affected individuals; and
creating new offences and increased fines for breaches, to a maximum of
The proposed reform follows increasing public interest in privacy law and
high profile privacy breaches. The results of a recent survey by the Privacy
Commissioner show that 50 percent of New Zealanders have felt ‘more concerned’
about privacy issues over the last few years. Also, the results of the
two-yearly “Individual Privacy & Personal Information” survey carried out by
UMR Research indicate that most New Zealanders are concerned about their credit
card or banking details being stolen, identity theft, and businesses sharing
information with other businesses without their permission.
In the announcement yesterday, the Justice Minister said that it is vital
that New Zealanders have confidence in our privacy laws, and that people know
their information is in safe hands. The proposed reform intends to put strong
incentives in place to ensure businesses, government departments and other
organisations take privacy seriously.
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.