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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

NZ shows the lead on privacy and public registers

The New Zealand Law Commission has published a paper on public registers as the second stage of its Privacy Review, suggesting that the statute that creates a register to be open for public inspection should also address issues about any limitation on the use of information, and associated issues such as publication on the web. It lists over 100 such registers in New Zealand and recommends that a year long review be undertaken to examine what is contained in them and what, if any limitations should be imposed on use and access.

The Australian Law Reform Commission Discussion Paper on Privacy released in September last year had little to say about this issue (in the section dealing with "Generally available publications" 8.29) probably because the Federal Government has relatively few public registers. Most such registers in Australia fall within state/territory and local government responsibility. In New Zealand with two tiers of government things are a bit different.

In NSW and perhaps in other states as well, there is still a lot of messiness about what constitutes a public register, and the appropriateness of publication on the web. Presumably an issue for consideration by the NSW Law Reform Commission which has been looking at privacy since April 2006. I'm sure they are busy down there, but in a letter in May 2006 the Commission said it was:
"planning to publish a consultation paper by December 2006. In this paper, the Commission will set out details of the scope of existing privacy laws in NSW, and seek to identify any problems or shortcomings with the current law".
We're still waiting but the Commission has a leg up on the range of issues concerning public registers outlined by the NZ Law Commission

Thanks to PogoWasRight for the lead.

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