Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Privacy: Not a priority for National

Back in 2011, the Law Commission released the final stage of its inquiry into the Privacy Act, recommending a new Act with tougher provisions to protect personal privacy. A year later the government accepted the proposals - but then sat on its hands and did nothing. Now, they've finally announced that they'll be beginning consultations to develop a bill. In the interim, they developed and passed under urgency GCSB proposals enabling the widespread invasion of our privacy on behalf of their foreign "partners". Its a telling display of their priorities.

The actual proposals are good. Mandatory reporting, enhanced powers for the Privacy Commissioner to force compliance with the law, limits on offshore transfers to low-privacy regimes such as the US (but note: there's an exemption for "security", so the spies have free rein as always). It will also make identity theft a criminal offence in its own right (rather than prosecuting it as fraud). OTOH, as TechLiberty points out, the Q&A file promises that the new law will enable further data-sharing between business and government. So, I think we'll need to wait for the bill to judge whether these changes are worth having or not.