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Privacy Commission Updates Guide For Ministers

Privacy Commission Updates Website Guide For Ministers

[Update 5:26PM: Office of the Privacy Commissioner responds:

The technology is playing tricks I'm afraid. There have not been changes in the content of the checklist today.

We simply moved the location of the checklist from its incorrect spot under "speeches", to the correct place under "guidance material".

The capitalisation issue that you raise is some sort of website glitch that has occurred automatically. I noticed a similar thing on one of our other website documents today. Thanks for drawing it to our attention.

Our website also automatically changes the "last updated" date shown by each document any time they are moved. That is all that happened today. We simply moved it so that it was easier to find - and was stored in the correct spot.]

The Privacy Commission web page that was raised in Parliament yesterday has been slightly updated, with a change to the capitalisation of the word "Minister".

The page was relied upon by Paula Bennett in response to claims she had breached the privacy act:

"I refer the member to the guidelines for Ministers on the Privacy Commissioner’s own website, which show that people can give implied consent for Ministers to discuss their personal circumstances by going to the media." (Question Time, 28/7/09)

However the page is now slightly different to the one Paula Bennett would have read. Attention was drawn to the revision by the page's change to a different web address.

A version of the page available in Google's cache allows comparison with the current version.

The only difference we have noticed is the replacement of every occurrence of the word "Ministers" with "ministers". This appears to have been done with a global search and replace, resulting in the paragraph:

"The information to be released might also include personal information about people other than the individual primarily concerned with the issue. ministers should consider whether the release of information about those other people is warranted in the circumstances."

The word "Minister" was unaffected.

The change to the web address (and, we assume, the content) has occurred since early yesterday, but appears to be part of a correction of that capitalisation throughout the Privacy Commissioner's website. For example, compare this story and the cached version from 9 June.

The change will also have halted a possibly large amount of web traffic to that page.

Both versions of the advice include examples of what might constitute implied consent:

"Individuals may authorise a public response, eg "I call on the Minister to explain to the people of New Zealand why I was not granted asylum." The Minister need only believe, on reasonable grounds, that the individual has authorised the disclosure."


"An individual goes to the media about the Department's refusal to grant permanent residence. The individual specifically asks in the media, for the Minister to explain why the application was declined."


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