The New Zealand Law Society
says that changes to the Privacy Act are not needed and will just circumvent an already established inter-agency information sharing framework which has carefully designed checks and balances.
The Privacy Act already enables government agencies to verify individuals’ identities for law enforcement purposes, the organisation argues in its submission to the Law and Order select committee on the Enhancing Identity Verification and Border Processes Legislation Bill.
“The Privacy Act allows agency information sharing via Approved Information Sharing Agreements (AISAs) that incorporate appropriate privacy protections, and it is not clear why this bill should circumvent the AISA framework’s carefully designed checks and balances. The proposed changes are also at odds with the design of the Privacy Act,” Law Society spokesperson Katrine Evans says.
The bill addresses recommendations from a government inquiry following the escape of Phillip John Smith/Traynor in 2014 while he was on temporary release from prison.
Evans says safeguards needs to be introduced if Parliament proceeds with the proposed changes.
“The bill should ensure greater transparency and public accountability. It is important the public can see what arrangements are in place to share identity information, and can be confident those arrangements are justified,” she says.
Ms Evans says this is particularly important when dealing with highly sensitive identity information such as biometrics – fingerprints, photos and iris-scans – which needs to be handled very carefully.
“The bill should also be amended to require that any future widening of the permitted sharing arrangements is clearly justified and proportionate,” she says.
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