5 Aug 2020

More than 800 marriage celebrants' privacy breached - DIA

3:39 pm on 5 August 2020

A North Island marriage celebrant is questioning how secure government data is, after her address was accidentally published online.

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Photo: Unsplash / Sandy Millar

The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) said 849 marriage celebrants in New Zealand who had asked that their address remain private, had their details published on the data.govt.nz website and a third party website.

DIA said there were more than 10,000 marriage celebrants in New Zealand.

General manager for service delivery and operations Russell Burnard said DIA was notified by one of the celebrants who identified the problem and the data was removed the same day from each website. Those affected had also been notified, and an apology sent.

One celebrant, who declined to be named, said she was concerned not only that her address was made public but that the DIA appeared to not have control of its data management.

"When I renew my celebrancy, there's a box to tick that says 'I don't want my address published', because I don't want my home address on the internet.

"Basically, I'm very concerned my own home address was one of those made public, but I'm also concerned that they [DIA] clearly don't have control of their data management and the government's meant to be better than this."

The celebrant said she had received an email, in which the DIA apologised for the inconvenience.

"This isn't about inconvenience - it's about privacy and safety.

"There are any number of reasons why people wouldn't want their home address available on the internet."

The celebrant said care was needed when securing information that was instructed to remain private, and she considered the matter amounted to a breach of privacy.

Burnard said the department was continuing to investigate how the addresses had been published, and it was confident there would be no repeat.

The Celebrant Association of New Zealand is now seeking to find out how many of its members had been affected.

The association represents just under one third of independent celebrants, of which there are 3739 in New Zealand. The remaining 6549 celebrants belong to an organisation.

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