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Stats NZ seeks a 'social licence' for data stewardship

Stats NZ seeks a 'social licence' for data stewardship

Stats NZ wants to gauge Kiwi's perceptions of its role as a steward of their personal data.

Statistics NZ wants to ensure it has our trust to act as a steward of personal data

Statistics NZ wants to ensure it has our trust to act as a steward of personal data

Stats NZ is seeking proof that it has New Zealander's permission to act as a steward of their personal data.

The lead statistics agency says that while research indicates it has good levels of trust amongst Kiwis, trust alone is unlikely to be enough to ensure the agency has ongoing "permission" to steward their personal information.

Stats NZ, therefore, has developed what it describes as a social licence strategy to shift the public’s perception of its activities from "naïve trust" to "informed trust".

The strategy aims to increase awareness, discussion and understanding of Stats NZ’s approach to collecting, using and keeping data safe based on five principles: safe data, value of data, trust and transparency, independence, and working together.  

"Social licence is a concept that relates to the activities that an organisation undertakes, and applies to different organisations in different ways depending on their activities," a tender for planned research to benchmark the agency's social license says.

"It can be described as an unwritten acceptance by the public for an organisation to perform activities that wouldn’t be acceptable if performed by others."

Stats NZ says it will assume a social licence exists if, through "active engagement", New Zealanders trust that the value it provides to society outweighs any personal cost.

Stats NZ wants to commission a survey to measure its social licence for data stewardship and report on it annually for the next three years.  

Social licence cannot be measured directly, it says, but the different components that make up social licence can be.

Those proposed components are:

  • Stats NZ is allowed to use personal information for purposes that are positive and beneficial to society
  • Kiwis trust that Stats NZ understands the risk to individuals of unsafe data use and is committed to maintaining privacy, and has put in place robust security processes to protect such personal information
  • Kiwis expect Stats NZ's process for stewarding our personal information to be transparent and accountable
  • They expect Stats NZ to actively engage with and take into account their views on how personal information is managed and used

The survey should deliver a "robust and respected" headline measure of Stats NZ’s social licence for data stewardship, a clear understanding of the nature of that social licence, insights into the agency's perceived strengths and weaknesses, and any social or demographic groups that require more active engagement.


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