Code issued on info-sharing during emergencies

After the Canterbury Earthquake in February 2011, the Privacy Commissioner issued a temporary code of practice to authorise information sharing that would help with the response. Photo / David Alexander
After the Canterbury Earthquake in February 2011, the Privacy Commissioner issued a temporary code of practice to authorise information sharing that would help with the response. Photo / David Alexander

Agencies will be able to share information about the public between themselves during a national emergency, the Privacy Commissioner says.

Commissioner Marie Shroff today issued a code of practice that permits broad information-sharing in the event of a crisis.

"When a national emergency strikes, response agencies need to be certain whether they can share information with others," Ms Shroff said.

"The last thing they need is to spend time second-guessing. And agencies that are planning for future emergencies have to be certain what the law will allow them to do, so they can factor that into their planning process."

The code of practice would give the agencies certainty, she said.

"Once a national emergency is declared, it will allow personal information to be collected, used and disclosed as part of managing the response and recovery process.

"For instance, it allows personal information to be collected and used to identify people present, missing, or injured in a disaster zone. It also makes sure families of those affected can be kept updated."

Immediately after the Canterbury Earthquake in February 2011, the Privacy Commissioner issued a temporary code of practice to authorise information sharing that would help with the response.

Ms Shroff said that temporary code was found to have been useful and practical.

- APNZ

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