Privacy and the digital economy

Information governance is critical for pandemic response and recovery.

Technology and trusted information have been vital tools for responding to the COVID-19 crisis. They will also be central to post-pandemic economic recovery, but privacy and security are essential for success.

Parliament has passed the Privacy Act 2020, replacing New Zealand’s 27-year old legislation and ushering in reforms almost a decade after the Law Commission’s 2011 review. Privacy Commissioner, John Edwards, welcomed the changes which will come into effect on 1 December.

“The new Privacy Act provides a modernised framework to better protect New Zealanders’ privacy rights in today’s environment,” he said.

Mr Edwards has long emphasised the connections between privacy, transparency and our ability to realise the promised benefits of the digital economy.

Speaking at Objective Collaborate, Wellington in 2018, Edwards noted, "More and more personal information is vulnerable and there is a greater concern. People have to have confidence that their personal information is safe in order to engage in the digital economy."

This blog is part of a series featuring presentations by thought leaders, exploring the interplay of digital government, open government and information governance. See related articles below.

See related articles below.

Surveys carried out by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner show that public concern continues to increase, and similar results are reflected in data from the UK, USA and Australia. Over 50% of respondents say they are more concerned about privacy today than they have been over the past 5 years.

Since then, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly increased our reliance on technology and information sharing. They’ve been vital tools for crisis response, ongoing business operations and maintaining family and personal connections.

Privacy, security and reliability have been at the centre of public debate – from the suitability of Zoom for Cabinet meetings, or the functionality of contact tracing apps, to the accelerated rollout of Microsoft 365 and Teams. Information governance has never been more critical or more topical.

“This is even more important as we move into a post-COVID phase,” says Daryl Marshall, Director Central Government at Objective Corporation. “The digital economy will be key to our recovery, and it relies on trusted information.”

As industry, government and society become increasingly dependent on secure information exchange and online collaboration, good governance must become business-as-usual.

Technical Account Manager, Colin Richardson, agrees. “Having the right regulatory framework is essential,” he says. “It helps organisations manage risk and builds trust with individuals, so everyone understands their rights and responsibilities.”

As Elizabeth Tydd, NSW Information Commissioner, also noted “When people trust how their data is being used, they are buying into value creation.”

Clear, consistent privacy legislation can even be a competitive differentiator between jurisdictions. Edwards highlights some of the key elements of the new Privacy Act include extra territoriality and cross-border protections.

Interstate and international information flows can be hampered in regions with weak (or non-existent) regulations. Such regions will be “left behind”. According to Edwards, the pace of change in this area is really picking up and increasing.

Information governance and privacy are fundamental to unlocking the benefits of the digital economy. Everything else builds on that foundation.

Explore our website to learn more about sustainable information governance and remote working or contact Objective today.