Increasing concern about unauthorised info being released by businesses - survey

The two-yearly Privacy Commissioner report was released this week.
The two-yearly Privacy Commissioner report was released this week. Photo credit: Getty

People appear to be increasingly concerned about the unauthorised release of personal information by businesses, a survey has revealed.

The two-yearly Privacy Commissioner survey shows 75 percent of New Zealanders are concerned about unauthorised companies sharing their details. It also found 65 percent want more regulation.

Commissioner John Edwards says the new Privacy Act due later in the year will make enforcement an option, with a fine of up to $10,000 possible.

Parliament passed the Privacy Act 2020 on Friday, with reforms including mandatory notification of harmful privacy breaches, the introduction of compliance orders, and controls on the disclosure of information overseas. 

"What I think the survey result tells us is that people are getting surprises and they don't like surprises," Edwards told Newshub. "If we can get in and influence that openness and transparency at the front end, I think that would lead to very positive privacy outcomes."

The survey says 72 percent of people were also concerned about the theft of their banking details.

"Digital privacy was often viewed by respondents in terms of security and protection of their online activities and information, particularly personal and financial details.

"Fifty-six percent of respondents were either 'concerned' or 'very concerned' about individual privacy and the protection of information, down from 67 percent in 2018."

Edwards said it's important New Zealanders have a modernised framework so their privacy rights can be protected.

"I am grateful for the cross-party support of Parliament on this issue. It is an endorsement of the significance of privacy as a universal human right that the Bill was passed with the multi-party support of the House."

Justice Minister Andrew Little introduced the Privacy Bill back in 2018. After being passed in Parliament last week, it will come into effect in December.

More information about the legislation can be found here.