Research shows New Zealanders have fears about privacy

Privacy breaches are costing millions of dollars worldwide with agencies and businesses near and far in the crosshairs of internet criminals, says Privacy Commissioner, Michael Webster.

An Internet NZ report earlier this month revealed New Zealanders want their privacy kept safe and respected and Webster says, in a statement, that privacy is a basic right people should be able to expect.

However, he says, it’s important that members of the public beef up their own education too about how to keep their lives private because prevention is always better than cure.

The report found three quarters of New Zealanders are worried about children accessing inappropriate material online. The other top concerns were online crime, security of personal data, cyber bullying, and threats to privacy.

Consistent with last year’s report, in the past 12 months two thirds of New Zealanders have chosen not to use at least one online service because of security or privacy concerns.

Webster says the internet “holds a lot of promise for people and allows them to connect with their communities and the rest of the planet. It’s important people can connect and trust, so it will be incredibly upsetting if we lose that because agencies don’t value the crucial importance of privacy”.

“There really needs to be a drive for agencies to invest in building privacy protective systems and cultures. 

“Agencies need to step up in terms of security and providing education to the public about why they want their information and how they will keep it safe,” says Webster.

Under the Privacy Act, agencies that collect and hold personal information have a duty to protect it and respect it to avoid causing harm to people. This includes ensuring personal information is carefully managed, including that it is only shared with the intended recipient.

Organisations must ensure there are safeguards in place that are reasonable in the circumstances to prevent loss, misuse, or disclosure of personal information.

“Our own reporting shows there has been a notable increase in data breaches being reported. There are also more and more accounts of cyber criminals seeking to make money from online attacks and selling off the data – this is their day job.”

Webster says people can reach out to his team if they need help.

“And given the nature of breaches, serious or not so, speed is of the essence. We want to help you protect the privacy of those whose data you hold. We are here to help. Privacy is precious. Trust is hard earned and easily lost and during a breach you can lose everything,” he says.

Internet New Zealand published its internet insights 2022 document, a Kantar Public Research Report this year.


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