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May 29, 2017 | by  | in News |
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MSD Privacy Update

A controversial Ministry of Social Development policy, requiring social services to provide clients’ names, birthdates, ethnicities, and the personal details of any dependents in order to receive funding, has been temporarily suspended by the Government.

The announcement on May 24 followed two privacy breaches of the data collection system, and an independent report which criticised the system.

Minister for Social Development, Anne Tolley, said that the government still wanted the data required under the policy, but recognised the need to “co-design” the system to ensure the data was fit for purpose.

A working group, to be overseen by the Minister responsible for social investment, Amy Adams, will be set up to work with NGOs and statisticians to devise the best way to collect data.

Adams affirmed that the rationale behind the policy had not been abandoned, but acknowledged that it was “worth the time to get the high level agreement and policy framework in place before we move into the next stage.”

An independent review of the system, released on May 16, found that it “lacked proper leadership and resourcing,” and that its security risks had not been adequately tested.

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards reflected that the agency had “gone too quickly to implement policy without thinking through the implications — and perhaps the unintended consequences.”

The Government said it aimed to have the new data collection system in place by the end of 2017.

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