Increased privacy regulation welcomed by Kiwis - especially when it comes to business

Increased privacy regulation welcomed by Kiwis - especially when it comes to business

Kiwis have greater trust in government use of their information than in business

Privacy commissioner John Edwards

Privacy commissioner John Edwards

Credit: Supplied

Sixty-five percent of New Zealanders want more privacy regulation, according to new survey results from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

The biennial snapshot survey – called "Privacy concerns and sharing data" – found nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of survey respondents were in favour of more regulation of what companies can do with their customers’ personal information, while 29 per cent were happy with the same level. 

Just 6 per cent overall called for less regulation. Men (9 per cent) were more likely to want less privacy regulation than women (4 per cent).

The result was fortunate because new regulations were already pending in Parliament when the survey was in the field between 31 March and 13 April. 

Last week, fears that a new privacy law would not make it through the current sitting of Parliament were scotched when the bill was passed. It comes into effect in December.

Among the key reforms affecting ICT users and consumers included in the new Privacy Act is the introduction of mandatory notification of harmful privacy breaches and a penalty regime for failure to do so.

The commissioner's snapshot survey also showed New Zealanders’ privacy concerns centred on unauthorised business sharing of their personal information (75 per cent), notably higher than the 65 per cent who were concerned or very concerned about government agencies doing the same.

Just 18 per cent of survey respondents agreed with the statement that they "feel in control with how their personal information is used by businesses", compared with 45 per cent who disagreed. 

When it came to the same question about how the government used personal information, 26 per cent agreed that they felt in control compared with 35 per cent who disagreed.

Just 23 per cent of respondents agreed that they had “a good idea of what companies and the government do with my personal information.”

Theft of banking details (72 per cent); and security of personal information online (72 per cent) were the next most prominent concerns. 

Of lower concern, 41 percent of respondents were concerned with the use of CCTV and facial recognition technology.

Māori were more likely to be “very concerned” about individual privacy (41 per cent) compared with other ethnicities (27 per cent).

Fifty-six per cent of respondents were either "concerned" or "very concerned" about individual privacy and the protection of information, down from 67 per cent in 2018.

Awareness of the Privacy Act remained high at 81 per cent.

Those aged 18-29 were significantly less likely to declare an awareness of the Privacy Act (57 per cent) than other age groups.

Māori and Pasifika respondents were also less likely to declare awareness (69 per cent and 63 per cent respectively) than other ethnic groups.

Digital privacy was often viewed by respondents in terms of security and protection of their online activities and information, particularly personal and financial details. People also saw digital privacy as giving them the right to control how their data was used.

 The survey was conducted by UMR Research who interviewed a nationally representative sample of 1398 New Zealanders aged 18 years and older. The margin of error was plus or minus 3.1 per cent.

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