- Terms of Reference
- Ministerial Briefing
- Miscellaneous Paper
- Study Paper
- Issues Paper
- Media & Speeches
- Government Response
This project involves four stages, with publications at each stage.
Stage 1: Policy Overview was a high-level analysis to assess privacy values, changes in technology, international trends, and their implications for New Zealand law. It was completed in 2008 with the publication of a study paper.
Stage 2: Public Registers was a consideration of the law relating to Public Registers and whether it requires systematic alteration as a result of privacy considerations and emerging technology. The Commission recommended a review of all public registers against a template set out in the report, with the resulting legislative changes to be introduced by way of a single omnibus Bill. The report was published in 2008, but the recommendations will not be considered by Government until the Commission completes its review of the Privacy Act 1993.
Stage 3: Invasions of Privacy considers the adequacy of New Zealand's civil and criminal law to deal with invasions of privacy. The Commission's final report (R113) was tabled and released in late February 2010. The Commission recommended a new Surveillance Devices Act to fill gaps in the regulation of the most objectionable forms of surveillance. On the question of the common law privacy tort (publication of private facts), the Commission recommends that this area be left to the courts to develop over time, rather than introducing a statutory cause of action.
Stage 4: Review of the Privacy Act 1993 is a general review of the statute with a view to updating it.
The final Report for Stage 4 was released 2 August 2011. To view the Report, click here.
References to the review in the media
NZ Herald 'Denis Tegg: Loophole that legalises official snooping' 15 August 2014
Stuff '$10,000 fines for identity theft' 28 May 2014
Beehive 'Bills to improve and safeguard information sharing passed' 21 February 2013
Stuff 'A public concern for privacy' 20 February 2014
NZ Herald 'Watchdog's warning on data harvest' 30 January 2014
Reed Smith 'New Zealand Data Protection Authority's Powers Held Back By Government Veto' 3 January 2014
Scoop 'Privacy: 10 years of change and challenges' 5 November 2013
Stuff 'State secrets—who guards our privacy?' 4 May 2013
Chapman Tripp 'Privacy protection—now a 'big league' issue' 12 April 2013
NZ Herald 'Gehan Gunasekara: Govt agencies should pass privacy WoF' 18 October 2012
NZ Herald 'For sale: your private details' 26 September 2012
Stuff 'Google ups ante in internet privacy' 2 July 2012
Radio NZ ‘Poll backs tougher Privacy Commissioner powers’ 2 May 2012
Scoop ‘Judith Collins: address to Privacy Awareness Week’ 2 May 2012
Lexology 'Proposed changes to the Privacy Act welcomed' 3 April 2012
The National Business Review 'Collins signals Privacy Act overhaul' 28 March 2012
Stuff 'Privacy laws to be overhauled' 27 March 2012
Ezine Simpson Grierson 'The Law Commission's Report on the Privacy Act - a new Act?' 19 December 2011
RNZ Nine to Noon 'Privacy and the law with John Burrows' 3 August 2011
TvOne News AMP Business 'Privacy Commissioner requires greater powers and more teeth' 3 August 2011
TvOne News 'Privacy changes to stamp out posting nude pics of ex' 3 August 2011
Internet NZ 'Law Commission privacy report a step forward' 2 August 2011
Obtain a Hard CopyAvailable online only.Published 12 Oct 2006
The Law Commission will conduct a four stage review of privacy values, changes in technology, international trends, and their implications for New Zealand civil, criminal and statute law, with reports at each stage of the project.
Obtain a Hard CopyAvailable online only.Published 2 Aug 2011
The Law Commission today completed its landmark review of privacy law with the publication of its final report, Review of the Privacy Act 1993: Review of the Law of Privacy Stage 4 (NZLC R123, 2011).
The report, which calls for new powers for the Privacy Commissioner, is the fourth in the Commission’s four-stage review of New Zealand’s privacy laws.
The report focuses on the Privacy Act 1993. Overall, the Commission believes the main principles of the Act remain sound. Rather than setting strict rules, the Act is based on privacy principles that can be applied flexibly to suit an agency’s particular circumstances. The Commission supports this principles-based approach, which also allows the Act to remain relevant as technology changes.
The Commission thinks the Act could be improved in a number of areas. Among the key recommendations of the report are that:
- the Privacy Commissioner’s powers should be augmented by a new power to issue compliance notices, and, where there is a good reason for it, to require an audit of an agency’s information-handling practices;
- the complaints process under the Act should be streamlined in a number of respects, including giving the Privacy Commissioner the power to make binding decisions on complaints about people’s right to access their own personal information;
- agencies should be required to notify people when personal information held by an agency is lost or otherwise compromised (for example, through computer hacking), if the breach is sufficiently serious;
- there should be a new framework in the Act to allow the sharing of personal information between government agencies where it is in the public interest to do so, but with appropriate safeguards; and
- some exceptions to the privacy principles should be modified; for example, to clarify that people can pass on information to an appropriate person where someone’s health is seriously at risk, or report suspected offending to the police.
Obtain a Hard CopyAvailable online only.Published 26 Feb 2010
The Law Commission’s report, Invasion of Privacy: Penalties and Remedies: Review of the Law of Privacy: Stage 3 (NZLC R113, 2010), has been tabled in Parliament. The report recommends the enactment of a new Surveillance Devices Act which would provide for criminal offences and a right of civil action in relation to the use of visual surveillance, interception and tracking devices. The report also recommends some changes to the Harassment Act 1997 so that it applies more clearly to instances in which surveillance is used for the purpose of harassment; some new offences targeting voyeurism; and some changes to the law governing surveillance by private investigators. The report recommends that the tort of invasion of privacy should be left to develop at common law.
Obtain a Hard CopyAvailable online only.Published 19 Feb 2008
The Law Commission’s report on Public Registers was published on 19 February 2008. The report identifies well over one hundred public registers in New Zealand, including rates databases and dog registers, land registers transport registers, the electoral rolls, births, deaths and marriages registers. Regulating the balance between open access to the registers and protection of personal information varies greatly. The Commission recommends that a dedicated team should review all public registers against a template set out in the report. Recommendations for resulting legislative changes should then be introduced by way of a single Omnibus Bill. However, the Law Commission’s recommendation for a public register review will not be considered by the Government until the Commission’s reference on the Privacy Act 1993 is completed.
Obtain a Hard CopyAvailable online only.Published 29 Mar 2011
The Commission is conducting a review of the Privacy Act 1993. In the course of this review it has studied the subject of information sharing by government agencies. It has been asked by the Minister to present its findings on this subject ahead of the report on the Privacy Act.
The Commission favours facilitation of information sharing between agencies, but only if there are proper checks and balances, and if risks to individual privacy are minimised. It proposes a regime whereby sharing programmes would go through a process of approval by Order in Council, after consultation with appropriate bodies, including the Privacy Commissioner. Approved programmes would be listed in a schedule to the Privacy Act. The Act would lay down the criteria for approving the programmes, and contain requirements of transparency and accountability.
Obtain a Hard CopyAvailable online only.Published 1 Nov 2007
A Conceptual Approach to Privacy attempts to develop a possible approach to conceptualising privacy with a view to assisting stage 1 of the Law Commission's review of privacy project. The aim of the paper is to establish a conceptual framework for starting to think theoretically about privacy and for practically assessing the present legal regime relating to privacy. As a framework for legal analysis, it will represent the starting point to the Law Commission's approach in stage 1 of its privacy review and a basis for putting some assumptions on the table so that constructive discussion can emerge as the Law Commission's review proceeds through all of its four stages. Please note only available to download.
Obtain a Hard CopyAvailable online only.Published 8 Feb 2008
This study paper is the outcome of stage 1 of the Law Commission’s Review of Privacy, and provides background for the later stages. It establishes a conceptual framework for the Review; examines social attitudes, technological developments, and international trends relating to privacy; and looks at some particular issues that will be discussed in more detail in the later stages of the Review. It does not include recommendations.
- Published 3 Mar 2010
'Review of the Privacy Act 1993' is an Issues Paper for stage 4 of the Law Commission's Review of Privacy Law. The issues paper looks at a range of issues in relation to the Privacy Act 1993, including the scope and approach of the Act; the role of the Privacy Commissioner; complaints and enforcement processes; sharing of personal information between government agencies; the implications of technological developments; and direct marketing. The issues paper makes some proposals for reform on which it seeks submissions, and also asks some open-ended questions. Hard copies of the issues paper are not available.
- Published 13 Sep 2007
Privacy Review: Public Registers Issues Paper
The Law Commission has produced an issues paper on the law relating to public registers. This is the consultation part of Stage 2 of the Law Commission’s review of privacy. The Commission welcomes any comments or submissions on the issues paper. The paper is available by clicking on the heading above. The closing date for submissions is Monday 5 November 2007. Submissions should be directed to Janet November or Rachel Hayward, Senior Legal and Policy Advisers, Law Commission, PO Box 2590, Wellington 6011, or by email to email@example.com .
Please note that the Law Commission is not printing copies of this issues paper; it is only available in electronic form.
- Published 6 Mar 2009
Invasion of Privacy:Penalties and Remedies NZLC IP14, Wellington 2009, is an issues paper which reviews the adequacy of New Zealand's civil, criminal and regulatory law to deal with invasions of privacy. In particular, it looks at the tort of privacy and surveillance. The paper raises questions and options for discussion and comment. The Commission welcomes any comments or submissions on the Issues Paper, which is available by clicking on the heading above. The closing date for submissions is Friday 29 May 2009. Submissions should be directed to General Manager, Law Commission, PO Box 2590, Wellington 6140, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.The paper can be downloaded free from this website. Related to the Review of Privacy project.
Obtain a Hard CopyAvailable online only.Published 2 Aug 2011
Video 1: How does the Privacy Act protect our privacy interests?
Video 2: Streamline complaints process
Video 3: New compliance notices and audit powers for Privacy Commissioner
Video 4: Data breach notification
Video 5: Information sharing
Video 6: Do not call register, privacy by design
- Published 11 Oct 2013
Law Commission submission to the Privileges Committee on the use of intrusive powers within the Parliamentary precinct.
- Published 26 Feb 2010
The Law Commission’s Report 113, Invasion of Privacy: Penalties and Remedies: Review of the Law of Privacy: Stage 3, was tabled in Parliament today.
- Published 26 Feb 2008
The Law Commission has completed stages 1 and 2 of its Review of Privacy, and commenced stages 3 and 4. It would like to hear about any concerns in relation to existing privacy laws, or proposals for reform of these laws.
- Published 19 Feb 2008
The Law Commission report Public Registers: Review of the Law of Privacy Stage 2 was tabled in parliament today 19th Feburary 2008
- Published 8 Feb 2008
Privacy is an elusive concept, and one that must be carefully balanced against other values, according to Law Commission President Sir Geoffrey Palmer.
The Commission has just released a study paper Privacy: Concepts and Issues, which is the first stage in a major review of the law of privacy.
To view the video of the press conference please paste the following url into your browser.
- Given 5 May 2010
Speech given by Rt Hon Sir Geoffrey Palmer at the Privacy Forum in Wellington on 5 May 2010.
- Published 29 May 2014
Click here for the Goverment Response to the Ministerial Briefing Information Sharing: Review of Privacy (2011).
Click here for the Government Response to Invasion of Privacy: Penalties and Remedies: Review of the Law of Privacy Stage 3 (NZLC R113, 2010).
Click here for the Government Response to Review of the Privacy Act 1993: Review of the Law of Privacy Stage 4 (NZLC R123, 2011).
Click here to view the Privacy Amendment Act 2013.
Click here to view the Government's paper Reforming the Privacy Act 1993.
Click here to view the Government's paper Supplementary Government Response on Review of the Privacy Act 1993.