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New Zealand businesses face challenges from proposed new privacy laws

New Zealand businesses across the country are set to face challenges as proposed new privacy laws make their way through parliament.

As the issue of data and privacy continues to remain a topic of interest, what can businesses do to stay innovative while keeping security and privacy top of mind?

This hot topic was up for discussion at this month’s TechFest 2020 in Hamilton. The event was attended by over 1,000 visitors, industry and business leaders, with more than 45 exhibitors and 15 seminars and workshops.

The Innovate session was sponsored by Hamilton-based teaching and learning company, LearningWorks, and featured a keynote speech by Privacy Commissioner John Edwards, as well as a panel discussion chaired by Chelsey Stewart, Smart Hamilton Programme Manager for Hamilton City Council.

The aim of the session was to share real-world experiences and learnings around business innovation and what it takes to truly innovate, keeping in mind security and privacy. 

Annabel Fordham, Public Affairs Manager for the Office of the Privacy Commissioner says in the wake of the new Privacy Bill, the introduction of mandatory privacy breach reporting will mean businesses will have an obligation to notify affected individuals, and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, if loss of data could cause serious harm.

“The focus is on letting people know when something goes wrong so that they can take steps to protect themselves – for instance, by changing their password or cancelling a credit card.

“Businesses should consider the privacy implications of innovation and try to innovate in ways that are consistent with privacy values. We believe it’s possible to do both.”

Ms Fordham says businesses should consider privacy from both a risk and a customer service perspective.

“Ticking the box in both these areas will make it easier to build privacy and trust for businesses’ customers and users,” she says.

“Privacy is about being transparent and clear with customers and protecting their personal information. It’s about telling people what you’re collecting and what you’re going to do with it.”

Although it can be difficult for businesses to keep up with the ever-changing technology landscape, Ms Fordham says they are developing ways to make it easier for businesses to keep in line with privacy laws.

“We’re developing an online breach reporting tool to make it as easy as possible for businesses to comply with their legal requirement of telling the Privacy Commissioner when there is a serious privacy breach.

“We also have a privacy statement generator that will enable a business owner to create a suitable privacy statement within a matter of minutes.”

Sandra Hutton, Chief Executive of LearningWorks, says businesses need to understand that advancements in technology not only make the world smaller, but create further risks when it comes to privacy protection.

“Social media, for example, is now commonly and widely used for business marketing. Although this can be a useful tool, it is important to understand how your information is being used, and what risks might be associated with this from a privacy perspective.

“It’s so easy to connect and share that businesses often forget there could be breeches.”

Both LearningWorks and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner have been working together for almost six years to provide tools and resources businesses need to exercise care in relation to privacy, personal information and data. 

“As a partner, we design, develop and support the Office of the Privacy Commissioner’s eLearning and Learning Management System,” says Hutton. “This has enabled the Office to educate and raise awareness to over 25,000 people through their free eLearning.” 

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