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Privacy Watchdog with Teeth?

Blog: Dave Thinking Aloud - David French

Lets take computer privacy breaches seriously here in New Zealand. Give the Privacy Commission some teeth and send appropriate messages to the likes of ACC.
A recent case in the UK resulted in a significant fine being levied on a National Health Trust which failed to destroy sensitive data on 1000 hard disks before releasing them. More worrying was that they thought that they could contract out of the responsibility by using a 3rd party to facilitate the disposal.
Here in New Zealand, we get investigations but no sense that responsibility for the protection of sensitive data is sheeted home to senior management. The pressure on organisations that mishandle sensitive data is reduced by the requirement that the “complainant can show that they have suffered harm” rather than that there was a breach. Only “if the harm is significant, a complainant might be able to claim that they are entitled to compensation”. Note that there is no actual entitlement to compensation nor a means of making orders like that made in the UK case. The best we can hope for is a sound drubbing of the Minister by the the capital’s press but even that has been lacklustre.

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