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Kia ora from New Zealand.

Much has happened in Aotearoa since my last introduction, not least the consideration of the new privacy bill by the government’s Justice Select Committee. Submissions closed on the bill at the end of May, and the committee received an encouraging total of 165 submissions from individuals and public- and private-sector agencies. While many of the submissions will be worth a read, I would recommend taking a look at the comprehensive views of NZ’s Privacy Commissioner. We now eagerly await the outcome of the Select Committee process, and particularly whether the government will heed the commissioner’s warning that the bill needs to deliver a privacy law that is fit for 2019 and beyond.

One of the goals of NZ’s privacy law reform is to bring our Privacy Act, which was once a leading data protection regulation, up to the new standards set by other jurisdictions, including the EU and Australia. This is important both for the protection of individual New Zealanders and the continuation of strong global business relationships for our innovative companies, many of which are already taking steps to ensure that they comply with the more prescriptive regulations that govern their global business activities.

iappANZ recently held a series of events in Auckland and Wellington to reflect on how the EU General Data Protection Regulation had impacted agencies since its commencement just over two months ago. The reaction was mixed. However, there was a general consensus that the GDPR “hype” has been good for privacy — it’s the biggest privacy regulatory change we will see for a while — but that the GDPR “fear” has been less warranted. Ultimately, the GDPR is still built on the fundamental privacy concepts we’re all very familiar with.

As for the Digest, there’s some great reading in here from the region, but two articles really caught my eye. Australia, which has been managing major issues about the opt-in/opt-out approach to its national eHealth system — My Health Record — is now dealing with the revelation that the system has been configured to store highly sensitive genomic information. While genomic information has real potential benefits in the diagnosis of rare medical conditions (such as some cancers), critics are concerned that the privacy implications of facilitating the collection and processing of this data have not been properly explored or addressed.

In my last APAC introduction, I mentioned an article that suggested Chinese consumers were becoming more aware of their privacy in the face of China’s social credit system. An alarming article in the South China Morning Post lists the 10 ways that China is advancing its surveillance technology to monitor its citizens, including using robotic doves, video surveillance, facial recognition technology, helmets that monitor workers’ brainwaves, social media platforms, and mobile apps to gather as much data as possible about its people.

While it’s not strictly a regional news story, I have to end on The Wall Street Journal’s piece about Facebook’s latest attempts to gather personal information from major U.S. banks. The article stated that "One large U.S. bank pulled away from the talks due to privacy concerns...” Really, just one? 

Happy reading! 

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