Thursday, November 11, 2021


The Health Committee has reported back on the COVID-19 Public Health Response Amendment Bill (No 2), and decided to finally protect contact tracing information:

We recommend amending the bill by inserting clause 25A to include a provision as new section 34A, to clarify the privacy of contact tracing data. Information created or provided by members of the public through QR scans and paper-based forms for contact tracing purposes could only be used for public health purposes and could not be used by any person or organisation for any other purpose.

We also recommend inserting an offence for intentionally failing to comply with section 34A(1). An individual who was convicted would be liable for a prison term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding $12,000. For any other person, the fine could not exceed $15,000.

Good. While it hasn't happened here yet, police overseas had abused people's trust by using contact-tracing information collected for public health purposes in criminal investigations. In other cases, companies have abused them for marketing purposes. Both obviously create a disincentive for people for people to scan or sign in. Protecting this information will ensure trust in the system and encourage people to comply with this unfortunately necessary public health measure.

(Contact-tracing information collected by the Ministry of Health was already protected, but that didn't cover the records on people's phones or on sign-in sheets at businesses).