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Act will ensure registers access with transparency

Hon Rick Barker
Minister of Internal Affairs

23 July 2008
Media Statement

Act will ensure access to registers with more transparency

Maintaining access to birth, death, marriage and civil union registers while ensuring there are safeguards for individuals’ personal information is the main outcome of the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationship Registration Amendment Act passed yesterday, Internal Affairs Minister Rick Barker said.

"In a climate where identity fraud has sadly become a more common occurrence the government is committed to ensuring that personal information is protected from misuse and abuse while still providing legitimate access.

"It is about striking a good, workable balance and there is no doubt the Act achieves this. After all an individual’s personal identity is an extremely valuable asset so is worthwhile protecting,” Mr Barker said.

The new proposals which come into effect in just over six months time will contribute to this by:

• requiring applicants for certificates and printouts to present identification.
• creating an ‘access register’ so people can find out who has applied to access their records.
• enabling a person to request that their records not be publicly disclosed.

He says that the access register is an important contribution to a more transparent environment for access to public register information.

“It means anyone can check who has been accessing their life event records and that’s an important contribution to a more transparent access environment for registers.

"New Zealanders pride themselves on living in an open society. The Government is committed to ensuring that we find an appropriate balance between openness to personal information while ensuring safeguards for individual privacy. This Act achieves that,” Mr Barker said.

"Meanwhile there are other important changes contained in the Act. At the same time, the Act will provide easier access to the registered information, for example, by allowing historical information to be accessed through a web-based service. Researchers will be able to request access to a greater range of information, including identifying information, about groups of individuals. Currently, researchers can only access non-identifying information for health, demographic or statistical research. Such access will be extended to people undertaking historical research.

"Other provisions will contribute to reducing identity fraud and providing better collection management of personal information.

"For example, a new register will be established to record the name changes of New Zealand citizens and permanent residents whose births are recorded in another country.

"This will assist in our ability to reduce identity crime," Mr Barker said.

Other features of the Act include the ability to follow up parents of unregistered babies and to ensure that the information on the official records is complete and accurate.

The Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationship Registration Act provides a revised and balanced framework for the accessing and protection of personal life information relevant to the 21st century.

“New Zealanders can be assured that this new Act will help protect their personal information from criminal misuse and uphold the integrity of life event records while not significantly compromising legitimate access to that information,” Mr Barker said.


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