That's the Privacy Commissioner's view of the Ministry of Social Development's plan to require community agencies to hand over highly personal information on their clients in exchange for funding:
The Government's policy of requiring community groups to give up data about their clients if they want state funding is excessive and breaches privacy rules, the Privacy Commissioner says.
The commissioner John Edwards said today there was a risk that the new funding arrangement between the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) and non-government organisations (NGO) could deter some people who were in need of support.
"Not only could that put those people further at risk, and increases pressure on the NGOs, the ultimate result could be that those individuals become 'invisible' to Government and policy-makers," he said.
Reading through the full report, they find that it is not clear that universal collection meets the necessity test of privacy principle 1, and that unclear purposes for collection threaten serious problems for both agencies and WINZ around informed consent, accuracy, and future use. From the policy development trail they give, its clear that WINZ has no real idea what they want to use this for (except maybe budget cuts) or who they will share it with, and seems to regard big data as magic: if they collect everything and throw it in a pile, then somehow policy solutions will magically emerge. Its also clear that they don't give a shit about the privacy of their victims: they never completed a privacy impact assessment of the policy, and still haven't, despite serious concerns being raised.
Given the serious problems identified by the Privacy Commissioner, this is not a policy that should continue. WINZ needs to end it, now. If they want proper data to enhance their policies, they should go back to the drawing board and find some way to get it legally and without deterring people from accessing services, rather than creeping on people with intrusive data surveillance.