Privacy Commissioner supports information sharing bill

By Amelia Romanos

Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff. Photo / NZ Herald
Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff. Photo / NZ Herald

Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff today gave her stamp of approval to legislation that would relax the rules around sharing information between public service agencies.

Parliament's justice and electoral committee is considering the Privacy (Information Sharing) Bill, which would lower the threshold for sharing of individuals' personal information held by public and private agencies.

In a submission to the committee today, Ms Shroff said there were a number of benefits to be gained through information sharing, and the proposed law change would provide better clarity.

Ms Shroff noted that the bill provided safeguards to ensure that private information was not shared without good reason.

"The bill has strong and practical safeguards, which are absolutely vital, and in my view they all interact together and are all necessary. Taking one away would potentially spoil the nicely balanced framework that we have," she said.

"One of my concerns has been that there may have been a little bit of inconsistency in the way information sharing is handled in government, one of the benefits of this is to provide a consistent framework."

Ms Shroff said her office would be involved in ensuring the specific sharing arrangements that the bill enabled were appropriate, and then closely monitoring them.

In response to concerns raised by New Zealand First MP Denis O'Rourke about information potentially ending up in unintended hands, Ms Shroff agreed close attention needed to be paid to the potential for abuse.

"I also think there's a huge issue about the point at which you start sharing government information with private sector businesses ... we would be paying quite sharp attention to that."

- APNZ

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