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Focus on data use not ownership - NZ Data Futures Forum

21 May 2014

Focus on data use not ownership - NZ Data Futures Forum

New Zealand needs a set of principles to help navigate the digital revolution according to a report released this week by the NZ Data Futures Forum.

The discussion document explores the challenges New Zealand will face in the rapidly developing data environment, and proposes a set of principles to ensure the benefits of data use can be safely harnessed.

“It’s an approach that emphasises data use rather than data ownership,” says Forum Chair John Whitehead.

The paper proposes four principles to safely manage and optimise data use, which focus on creating value, inclusiveness, trust, and control.

“Our data future is potentially one where huge social and economic value is created from data use. First and foremost, we are saying New Zealand should take the measures necessary to ensure we obtain the gains on offer such as prosperity and jobs," says Mr Whitehead.

"Secondly, we’re proposing that this value should be available for everyone to access and use - not just big business or government.”

Thirdly, the Forum is also adamant that the real benefits will only come about when people can trust that their data is being managed and used safely, and for good purposes.

“We believe that in general everyone should have a right to know what data is held about them, by whom and what it’s being used for. We suggest that exceptions to this principle need to be well justified,” says Mr Whitehead.

Finally, the public should also have the right to have more control over the use of their personal data - including the right to have something personal ‘forgotten’. The paper cites separating from a violent partner or a transgender experience as two examples where an individual might have good reason to have personal data erased.

“We see the right to control personal data as another fundamental principle. But the principles we’ve proposed are just that - proposals, and are all up for open discussion and debate. We’re encouraging people to make comment through our website:

The Forum was established by the Ministers of Finance and Statistics to start a conversation with New Zealand about the opportunities, risks and benefits of sharing data.

The discussion document can be read here at:

For more information visit


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