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Privacy Bill faces clear path to law after second reading

September 2019 - TMT. Legal Developments by Bell Gully.

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‚Äč‚Äč‚ÄčA bill to mo‚Äč‚Äčdernise New Zealand‚Äôs privacy laws has finally concluded a protracted second reading and is now all but sure to be voted through to the final stage and pass into law without any major hurdles.

A bill to modernise New Zealand’s privacy laws has finally concluded a protracted second reading and is now all but sure to be voted through to the final stage and pass into law without any major hurdles.

The second reading of the Privacy Bill, which began on 18 June, and continued on 30 July finally came to an end on Wednesday 7 August. The Bill originated in recommendations made by the Law Commission in 2011, and has since gone through as many as 45 iterations. But broad consensus across the political spectrum, that it represents a necessary update to New Zealand laws in an increasingly data-driven world, suggests its path is now clear.

Here are the key takeaways from Wednesday’s reading:

  • The Select Committee was persuaded by public submissions to change the threshold of the mandatory reporting requirements. It is clear there has been significant public interest in the mandatory notification scheme, which was the focus of 85 of the 162 total submissions on this Bill. The Bill now states notification would now be mandatory where there is a risk of serious harm as a result of the breach. On 30 July, National had signalled unhappiness with the requirement, noting that even though it has been raised, in their view it remains too strict.
  • The Select Committee raised the issue of compatibility between the New Zealand Bill and the recently enacted GDPR in Europe, noting that these efforts on privacy will bring New Zealand into line with the perceived EU ‚Äėgold-standard‚Äô. Such compatibility is an important aspect of the Bill as it offers key compliance efficiencies to international businesses.
  • The news media exemption was also discussed, with both Labour and National agreeing firmly that the freedom of news organisations to ‚Äúgather the news fearlessly and in a forthright manner‚ÄĚ should not be curtailed by the Bill. That exemption has been broadened to apply to internet publications, books, and to both Radio New Zealand and Television New Zealand (who were previously not included in the ‚Äúnews media‚ÄĚ exemption due to their state broadcaster roots).

Parliament is now due to vote on the Bill. If passed, the Bill will be sent to the Committee of the House, and may receive final changes (although we do not anticipate these will be material). The Bill will then have its final reading, before it becomes law. We will continue to follow any developments closely.