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 are currently deciding on our campaigns for 2020, so watch this space!

As it’s election year, though, it’s worth having a look back at our last election campaign on privacy and election policies.

At the time, we wrote to all the major political party leaders in Parliament (Party leaders letter) asking a few brief election policy questions including:

  • the 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.

The responses were as follows:

New Zealand First, the Green Party and Labour provided us with the informative responses below. (Green Party Response;Labour Party Response;New Zealand First Response)

All three parties gave a strong general commitment to protecting personal information and respecting privacy. Some other highlights were:

  • Labour said we are now lagging behind the rest of the world because of stalled Privacy Act reforms, and committed to implementing most of the Law Commission proposals to strengthen consumer protections.
  • All three parties also disagreed with collection of individuals’ information from NGO agencies.
  • NZ First and Greens were also keen to see reforms to the Privacy Act to increase protection of consumers.
  • The Greens wanted to see the right to privacy included in the Bill of Rights Act; and wanted to see ICT vendors take more responsibility for user privacy.

National failed to acknowledge or respond to our letter, as did the Maori, Act and United parties.

There has been progress since that time. For instance, the charity funding proposals were discarded by the incoming government. Also, the Privacy Bill was introduced to Parliament and has broad cross-party support, though its progress through the House has been unaccountably slow.

The Privacy Foundation is strongly campaigning for the Bill to be passed quickly (see the Foundation’s media release on Data Protection Day – and certainly the Bill needs to go through well before the election.  Hopefully then, we can talk about the further reforms that are needed to keep the Privacy Act current and effective, rather than spending yet another election period talking about getting the Law Commission’s 2011 proposals across the legislative line.