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On privacy and elections: five minutes with Andrew Little

Paul Brislen, Editor. 30 September 2019, 6:24 am

Any problems with the new Privacy Bill will have to wait until after it's introduced into law, says Minister of Justice Andrew Little.

The legislation had been drawn up under the previous government but had sat for five years without progress, says Little, but since then the world has moved on, leading to some criticism of the new legislation.

Internationally, new privacy regimes such as the European Union's General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) are being hailed as the way forward, with significantly tougher penalties for those who breach the rules and a more aggressive stance towards issues like the right to be forgotten.

However, Little says the New Zealand law is framed in quite a different way and builds on the existing law.

"Its focus is on conciliation rather than enforcement and builds on the regime we have in place today, with the Privacy Commissioner and a set of easily understood principles."

Rather than multi million dollar fines, the new Bill includes very little punitive action - any breach that goes unreported will incur a fine of just $10,000 - as the overall approach is to encourage positive behaviour rather than punish the bad.

"The select committee was somewhat split on the way forward in this regard, but we're going to do what we have to bring the bill forward and then update it in the next two to three years."

Little is also the minister responsible for overseeing the Electoral Commission and says safeguarding the integrity of the upcoming elections is essential, in light of the way electoral processes have been handled internationally.

"Our process is a good one with required authorisations and disclosures required on advertising and that extends to social media as well."

He says the Commission is likely to put out an awareness campaign in the lead up to the next general election reminding participants of spending limits and of the need to fully disclose who is paying for advertising and where the money is coming from.


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