Monday, 08 May 2017 17:45

Privacy under the microscope in NZ with new Privacy Foundation

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Privacy under the microscope in NZ with new Privacy Foundation Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Scrutiny and advocacy of privacy issues in New Zealand have been given a boost with the launch of the Privacy Foundation of New Zealand.

The new body has been established to help to advocate for people’s privacy and personal information rights in New Zealand.

The foundation members are all volunteers with expertise or interest in privacy issues, including people from the business, IT, health and legal sectors, as well as from a variety of academic disciplines.

New Zealand’s former Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff and Associate Professor Gehan Gunasekara of Auckland University Business School are the chair and deputy chair respectively of the newly formed organisation, while other founding committee members are Associate Professor Alex Sims (Auckland University Business School), Alida van Klink (Chartered Accountant, Auckland),  Kathryn Dalziel (Christchurch) and Katrine Evans (Wellington), both specialist privacy lawyers in private practice.

Shroff said today, “Control over our personal information is a crucial 21st century human rights issue. Hardly a day goes by without a fresh report of loss, carelessness or deliberate misuse of our information.

“Also, the complexity of our information environment leads many people to wonder how much control they have in the big data age. They are rightly worried about whether anything is off limits to government and business. They are concerned for the safety and rights of both themselves and their children.

“The Office of the Privacy Commissioner has a crucial and sometimes lonely role in upholding the Privacy Act 1993, in resolving privacy complaints from the public and working to influence government and business practice. While the Foundation is separate from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and our views may sometimes differ, we expect to be able to complement and support its work in most instances”.

Gunasekara said the foundation was an independent, voluntary organisation and its role would be to “stand outside the system as an informed advocate for public rights. Protecting privacy rights in the digital age is now a priority which will benefit from more independent firepower”.

Foundation activities will include:

  • Public statements on data protection and privacy issues of public importance including policy issues and proposals.
  • Submissions to select committees of parliament including relevant legislation.
  • Representations to relevant business, government and interest groups.

To access the Privacy Foundation’s website and to join and/or to provide support for the Foundation, click here.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired in 2020. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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