In this area we will be signaling our leadership and involvement in public campaigns for improving privacy protections and highlighting privacy abuses and concerns.
We recently launched our first campaign! As this is election year we have been focusing on privacy and election policies. Our chair wrote to leaders of all the main political parties and we can now report as follows:
“NZ First, Greens and Labour Show Pre-Election Signs of Intelligent Life on Privacy; National Unresponsive”
People are getting worried these days about their safety from scams, hackers, big data invasion, and just sheer careless data breaches. Protecting us in the digital environment is a big task now and for the future. Wouldn’t you think major parties would at least have a position on it before the election? We thought we would find out if our political leaders have woken up to their responsibilities to help protect citizens from digital threats.
The Privacy Foundation NZ wrote (Party leaders letter) to political party leaders in Parliament on 20 July asking a few brief election policy questions including: parties’ general approach to protecting people’s information especially online; whether they would continue the current government policy of requiring charity groups to provide information about clients as a condition of providing them with funding; whether they will pass very overdue improvements to protections in the Privacy Act; and their views on oversight of intelligence agency surveillance on New Zealanders.
We asked for replies by 7 August, so we could publish the results of our brief policy survey for the information of voters before the election.
This is what we found.
All three parties gave a strong general commitment to protecting personal information and respecting privacy. Some other highlights were:
– Labour says we are now lagging behind the rest of the world because of stalled Privacy Act reforms, and commits to implementing most of the Law Commission proposals to strengthen consumer protections.
– All three parties also disagree with collection of individuals’ information from NGO agencies (This is planned in worrying current government proposals to force NGOs to provide information about individual clients – or have funding withheld.)
– NZ First and Greens were also keen to see reforms to the Privacy Act to increase protection of consumers.
– the Greens would like to see the right to privacy included in the Bill of Rights Act; and would like to see ICT vendors take more responsibility for user privacy
National has failed to acknowledge or respond to our letter; from Maori, Act and United parties, the same nil response.
We are delighted to see three important political parties in New Zealand, Labour, New Zealand First and Greens, rising to the challenge of protecting New Zealanders in the digital age.
If we receive further responses we will promptly put them up on our website, or provide further commentary on policies or lack of them. Watch this space!
Please also contact us if you are able to undertake further research on parties privacy policies on our behalf.