Living in Interesting Times—A View from the New Zealand Privacy Office

One of the dubious delights of being a privacy regulator is the unexpected things that crop up during every working week. It doesn’t matter how I plan and prioritise work—some headline-grabbing issue or urgent demand for time and attention will come across the desk and force a rethink. It can be a challenge, but it certainly keeps the job interesting.

For instance in 2013, Edward Snowden’s revelations over government surveillance exploded onto our news feeds at the very time we were making submissions on the government’s plans to revise intelligence agency statutes. Wearable technology and unmanned aerial vehicles raised urgent questions—and not just along the lines of “can I have one for Christmas?” Continuing major data breaches, for example by the Earthquake Commission, challenged public confidence in government and business institutions alike, and some required urgent input from our office.

With this backdrop, we expect our upcoming public opinion poll is likely to show an upward trend in people’s concerns about privacy and security—overseas polls certainly suggest that concerns are increasing.

Leaving space to deal with the unexpected isn’t easy when even the “known knowns” —or should that be “known unknowns”? —occupy us full time. These include the government’s intention to reform the 20-year-old Privacy Act. The exact shape of the changes is still tba, but we’re hoping for announcements reasonably soon. Proposed changes by the Law Commission, if accepted, would include putting a few more items in our enforcement toolbox, to enable us to deal better with modern information practices and to speed up our current investigations processes. Fingers crossed.

Another challenge is that we believe biometrics is an emerging area that will get more media and public attention. Facial recognition, finger printing and other physiological signature technologies are increasingly being explored as solutions, or options, to deal with a variety of problems. The earlier focus has been on biometric applications in situations such as border control, but applications of biometric technologies are now cropping up in many other domestic and commercial settings.

New applications of technology will continue to challenge us, such as the much heralded Internet of Things and various types of “smart” systems. The different types of wearable technology are only going to grow. Also, younger and younger children are interacting with others online and publishing information about themselves. On the latter issue, we’re looking forward to the launch of our “OWLS” teaching resources for primary schools on 11 February—teaching kids to be wise about privacy online.

Privacy breach notifications are on the rise, and there’s no reason to think that this trend will change in the near future. Breaches are going to continue, particularly in those entities where information management systems are still relatively immature. We were (voluntarily) notified of 107 breaches in the 2012/13 year, compared with 46 for the previous 12 months. This is not necessarily an indication of rising breach numbers—most of which we still wouldn’t know about—but, we optimistically think, shows an increase in awareness about breaches from agencies. Growing breach reporting, though, also ups the pressure on us to provide useful advice and to follow up with investigations into agencies that have had major lapses.

Some of our recent data breach notifications have involved lost or stolen portable devices, including ones supplied by employees. Managing BYOD successfully is becoming a real issue for organisations, particularly with ubiquitous smart phones and the need for more flexible work practices. There’s a growing need for organisations to get their heads around the topic, and to establish or adapt their policies and practices, to get work done efficiently and safely.

It is also poised to be a big year for developments in healthcare information management, with shared care services being introduced by some major health agencies. We’ll continue moving towards new online portals, to enable patients to self-manage their medical records, book doctor appointments, receive results and contact their GPs. Information security and other privacy issues will be closely watched—by us and others—because trust and confidence is so integral to getting people to use the new systems.

Late in 2013, the government announced that it would establish the new role of Government Chief Privacy Officer. This all-of-government position will place privacy at the highest levels of public administration and bring it into line with how many large businesses operate. This is a good investment in helping to improve how people’s personal information is handled.

Last but far from least, we’re kicking off this year with a new Privacy Commissioner. Marie Shroff is stepping down after 10 years (two terms) in the role, and John Edwards will take up the job on 17 February. We’re sure he’ll enjoy it, challenging though being a privacy watchdog can be in these interesting times.

photo credit: Chris Gin via photopin cc

Written By

Katrine Evans

1 Comment

If you want to comment on this post, you need to login.

  • superdry pas cher May 29, 2014

    <a href="http://superdrysoldes.over-blog.com/">superdry pas cher </a>[url=http://superdrysoldes.over-blog.com/]superdry pas cher [/url]  xboter 2014


Board of Directors

See the esteemed group of leaders shaping the future of the IAPP.

Contact Us

Need someone to talk to? We’re here for you.

IAPP Staff

Looking for someone specific? Visit the staff directory.

Learn more about the IAPP»

Daily Dashboard

The day’s top stories from around the world

Privacy Perspectives

Where the real conversations in privacy happen

The Privacy Advisor

Original reporting and feature articles on the latest privacy developments

Privacy Tracker

Alerts and legal analysis of legislative trends

Privacy Tech

Exploring the technology of privacy

Canada Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top Canadian privacy news

Europe Data Protection Digest

A roundup of the top European data protection news

Asia-Pacific Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top privacy news from the Asia-Pacific region

Latin America Dashboard Digest

A roundup of the top privacy news from Latin America

IAPP Westin Research Center

Original works. Groundbreaking research. Emerging scholars.

Get more News »

IAPP Communities

Meet locally with privacy pros, dive deep into specialized topics or connect over common interests. Find your Community in KnowledgeNet Chapters, Sections and Affinity Groups.

IAPP Job Board

Looking for a new challenge, or need to hire your next privacy pro? The IAPP Job Board is the answer.

Join the Privacy List

Have ideas? Need advice? Subscribe to the Privacy List. It’s crowdsourcing, with an exceptional crowd.

Find a KnowledgeNet Chapter Near You

Talk privacy and network with local members at IAPP KnowledgeNet Chapter meetings, taking place worldwide.

Find more ways to Connect »

Find a Privacy Training Class

Two-day privacy training classes are held around the world. See the complete schedule now.

The Privacy Core™ Library Has Evolved

Privacy Core™ e-learning essentials just expanded to include seven new units for marketers. Keep your data safe and your staff in the know!

Online Privacy Training

Build your knowledge. The privacy know-how you need is just a click away.

Upcoming Web Conferences

See our list of upcoming web conferences. Just log on, listen in and learn!

Train Your Team

Get your team up to speed on privacy by bringing IAPP training to your organization.

Let’s Get You DPO Ready

There’s no better time to train than right now! We have all the resources you need to meet the challenges of the GDPR.

Learn more »

CIPP Certification

The global standard for the go-to person for privacy laws, regulations and frameworks

CIPM Certification

The first and only privacy certification for professionals who manage day-to-day operations

CIPT Certification

The industry benchmark for IT professionals worldwide to validate their knowledge of privacy requirements

FIP Designation

Recognizing the advanced knowledge and issue-spotting skills a privacy pro must attain in today’s complex world of data privacy.

Certify Your Staff

Find out how you can bring the world’s only globally recognized privacy certification to a group in your organization.


The IAPP’S CIPP/E and CIPM are the ANSI/ISO-accredited, industry-recognized combination for DPO readiness. Learn more today.

Learn more about IAPP certification »

Are You Ready for the GDPR?

Check out the IAPP's EU Data Protection Reform page for all the tools and resources you need.

IAPP-OneTrust PIA Platform

New U.S. Government Agency privacy impact assessments - free to IAPP members!

IAPP Communities

Meet locally with privacy pros, dive deep into specialized topics or connect over common interests. Find your Community in KnowledgeNet Chapters, Sections and Affinity Groups.

Privacy Vendor List

Find a privacy vendor to meet your needs with our filterable list of global service providers.

More Resources »

Europe Data Protection Intensive 2017

The Intensive is sold out! But cancellations do happen—so hurry and get on the wait list in case more seats become available.

Global Privacy Summit 2017

The world’s premier privacy conference returns with the sharpest minds, unparalleled programs and preeminent networking opportunities.

Canada Privacy Symposium 2017

The Symposium returns to Toronto this spring and registration has opened! Take advantage of Early Bird rates and join your fellow privacy pros for another stellar program.

The Privacy Bar Section Forum 2017

The Privacy Bar Section Forum returns to Washington, DC April 21, delivering renowned keynote speakers and a distinguished panel of legal and privacy experts.

Asia Privacy Forum 2017

The Forum returns to Singapore for exclusive networking and intensive education on data protection trends and challenges in the Asia Pacific region. Call for Speakers open!

Privacy. Security. Risk. 2017

This year, we're bringing P.S.R. to San Diego. The Call for Speakers is now open. Submit today and be a part of something big! Submission deadline: February 26.

Europe Data Protection Congress 2017

European policy debate, multi-level strategic thinking and thought-provoking discussion. The Call for Speakers is open until March 19.

Sponsor an Event

Increase visibility for your organization—check out sponsorship opportunities today.

More Conferences »

Become a Member

Start taking advantage of the many IAPP member benefits today

Corporate Members

See our list of high-profile corporate members—and find out why you should become one, too

Renew Your Membership

Don’t miss out for a minute—continue accessing your benefits

Join the IAPP»