Dunne must front up over IRD privacy breaches - Labour

By Kate Shuttleworth

Inland Revenue. Photo / Janna Dixon
Inland Revenue. Photo / Janna Dixon

The Labour Party wants Revenue Minister Peter Dunne to front-up over the leaking from the IRD of private information of 6300 people.

Labour's Revenue spokesman David Clark said Mr Dunne was ducking responsibility for the breaches of privacy by hiding behind his chief executive. He said privacy issues had plagued the Government.

"Thousands of New Zealanders deserve answers as to why their personal information was publicly leaked.

"Peter Dunne is the minister in charge of the Inland Revenue Department and the buck stops with him."

"After seven years with Peter Dunne at the helm, the IRD is a shambles," said Mr Clark.

The Government have fronted up over a series of privacy breaches. The Ministry of Social Development held press conferences to outline how self-service kiosks at Work and Income offices could be used to access private information, but IRD will not give information on how 32 incidents last year led to privacy breaches affecting 6300 people.

Mr Dunne has defended a decision not to answer specific questions on how the breaches occurred, saying it was an operational matter. He said errors included things like a wrong attachment on an email, or the wrong paperwork in the wrong envelope - which he put down to human error - but would not say how many of each error had occurred or their seriousness.

ACC came under intense scrutiny when the personal details of 6500 clients was attached to an email and sent to claimant Bronwyn Pullar.

IRD would not say exactly how the privacy breaches happened, but said they had occurred in the last year.

A spokeswoman for IRD said the incidents were a result of human error.

"They do not reflect any systemic failures within the organisation, nor are they due to changes to budgets or staff resources.

"The vast majority of the breaches occurred due to human error, and we are unable to comment further on the incidents or individuals due to customer confidentiality."

The spokeswoman said IRD looked at each of the 6300 cases to find out what was involved.

"We considered factors such as the level of cooperation by the recipient of the information, whether the information had been returned to the department and how quickly this had been done, and guidance and advice from the Privacy Commissioner."

Mr Dunne had sought guidance from the office of the Privacy Commissioner about 5700 of those affected.

He said those who were at particular risk of identity fraud had been contacted.

- APNZ

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