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Big Brother disregards Privacy Rights

Big Brother disregards the Privacy Rights of Social Service users

This is a media release made by Kay Brereton on behalf of the National Beneficiary Advocacy Consultation Group.

Ms Brereton a benefit advocate says: “As a group we are appalled by the MSD’s plans to collect individual client level data from the services it funds, we have told the MSD Chief Executive that we do not support this collection of personal information. Our concern is amplified by the recent disclosure of a privacy breach in phase one of this data collection. The Privacy Commissioner's calls the Ministry’s plan to collect ICL data excessive and disproportionate, and we completely agree.”

“We are very concerned about MSD data security and believe that our concerns are well founded as MSD has a very poor record of information security: On more than one occasion an individual's payment information has been released to the media, for several years W&I offices had public access computer kiosks which enabled access to the Ministry’s computer systems, most people on a benefit are able to relate at least one occasion when their information was ‘lost’ by W&I, and we are aware of numerous occasions when private information has been sent to the wrong address or to the wrong individual. This results in low trust by MSD service users of the security of their information.”

“In response to the Individual Client Level Data collection plan we surveyed a group of beneficiaries nationwide and they were very clear that they would not (70%,) or would be very reluctant to (21%), use a service which would be supplying their identifiable personal information to MSD. We have done a second survey in light of the recently revealed privacy breach; 96% said they don’t feel safe and don’t want their information shared, 2% didn’t mind and trusted their information was safe, and 2% didn’t care either way.”

“Like the Privacy Commissioner we feel that the unintended consequence of this requirement will be to deter people from using vital social services, and that this will have a negative impact on the individual their whanau and their community.”

“We also agree with the Privacy Commissioner's finding that the purpose for collecting the data is unclear, and that the policy process has been poorly developed. This policy has been developed without consideration of concerns of NGO’s, and with little or no consideration of the impact on the individuals, the community providers, or the community as a whole.”

“We are very concerned that MSD advised the Privacy Commissioner that “all the data that we collect will be transferred into our MSD data warehouse. This will enable us to then match it with other data sets we hold on the clients.” This indicates to us that the fears that people have about how their data will be used is very well founded and the Ministry is intending to use it as further information in their data matching. We are concerned that this style of data matching could lead to pro-active people being seen as vulnerable for using more than one service.”

“We are of the opinion that Minister Tolley and MSD should completely abandon their plan to collect ICLD, but at least should adopt recommendation 1 of the Privacy Commissioner’s report, which would see the data anonymised collated and analysed by Statistics NZ, the NZ data analysis specialists.”

“We will assist people to identify agencies which will not provide their personal data to MSD, so that they can feel secure and safe while getting the help they need.”


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