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May 10, 2010 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Privacy problems

Palmer turns his focus to “chocolate” fish.

Law Commission President Sir Geoffrey Palmer offered the prize of a chocolate fish to anyone who could define privacy, at the Privacy Forum held last week in Wellington.

It seems to be a trick question, as Palmer says “a more protean and elastic concept is difficult to find”.

Palmer’s speech did go beyond confectionery, and addressed the fourth part of the extensive Law Commission review of privacy law which is expected to be released “around the end of the year”.

Palmer called on the public to make submissions extending the deadline from the previous date of 30 April, up until the end of May.

He says privacy “is an important subject [and] there are a number of issues upon which we need real help”.

Of particular concern is the issue of data breaches and the corresponding law, which in New Zealand does not require a mandatory notification to the individual whose information has been breached.

Palmer says agencies in New Zealand are not required to notify individuals whose personal information has been compromised, “no matter how sensitive the information and no matter how serious the risk of harm that could be suffered as a result”.

“Data breaches take a multitude of forms. Sometimes they are quite innocent, on other occasions they are serious and deliberate acts aimed at damaging other individuals.”

Palmer also said there are too many loopholes in the current Privacy act which need to be rectified.

“The Privacy Act has afforded many public and private agencies a false excuse for not carrying out their obligations. The Privacy Act is used as an excuse for not giving information in numerous occasions where there is no possible justification for the use of the act in that manner.”

If you think you can win the chocolate fish, Palmer says: “Entries in writing will be accepted to the Law Commission’s email address, the Judge’s decision is final and I am the Judge.”

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