A Government Chief Privacy Officer will be appointed to give a stronger focus on privacy and security in government.

The new position was announced by State Services Minister Jonathan Coleman and Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain.

"It is important that New Zealanders have confidence in government agencies to do all they can to ensure personal information is kept safe," Dr Coleman said.

Government Chief Information Officer Colin MacDonald is already leading a two-year programme to ensure New Zealanders have trust and confidence in information security.


The new Privacy Officer will lead an all-of-government approach to privacy and will be responsible for leadership and advice for agencies, and co-ordinating engagement with the Privacy Commissioner.

The appointment follows three privacy breaches this year by the Earthquake Commission (EQC).

One claimant received an email with an attached spreadsheet with 2200 names, stopped cheque details and claim amounts worth about $23 million. Another email was mistakenly sent to a former EQC contractor, Bryan Staples, with claim status and private details of 83,000 claimants, covering 98,000 claims, and EQC admitted another breach of privacy in September after information on up to 260 claimants was sent to the wrong customers.