19 Feb 2015

Commission looks at use of sensitive information

1:04 pm on 19 February 2015

The Privacy Commissioner says there continues to be a high level of public anxiety over the protection of private information and the activities of intelligence and security agencies.

Addressing Parliament's Justice and Electoral Committee this morning, John Edwards told MPs his office got a constant stream of inquiries and complaints about perceived erosions of privacy and breaches of privacy.

He said the public needed further reassurances that online communications are secure.

Mr Edwards said a review of privacy laws this year should give his office greater tools to stop agencies from carrying out work that breaches people's privacy.

He told the committee he had been working with other oversight agencies to make sure that an effective check of intelligence services is in place.

The review follows high profile court cases in recent years involving the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) and the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) including that of the internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom accused by the United States of money laundering.

The Commission said it is seeking to balance the right to a fair trial with the need to protect national security.

Law Commissioner Geoff McLay said there was also the issue of some New Zealand law becoming outdated which he said had falen out of line with similar countries.

The Commission is expected to complete its review by October.

The Commission is also considering how to improve the court experience of victims in sexual offence cases. It expects to report back on that to the justice minister by September.

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