Here is the letter, and the media release was sent as below:
Information professionals want changes to the Data and Statistics Bill
Library and information professionals are calling on the government to make changes to the Data and Statistics Bill, currently with parliament.
“As information professionals we are interested in how information is gathered and used,” says Paddy Plunket, information specialist on behalf of LIANZA Te Rau Herenga o Aotearoa. “This bill does not have enough checks and balances to reassure us that New Zealand’s data and statistics are sufficiently protected.”
LIANZA, Te Rau Herenga o Aotearoa, is the Library and Information Association of New Zealand. We are the voice for professionals and institutions working across the whole library and information sector, representing 195 institutions and 1,125 library and information professionals.
LIANZA has called on Minister David Clark to amend the bill as it dangerously conflates two separate types of government data: official statistics, and unspecified data gathered as a result of government agency activity.
“Vesting oversight of access to this second category of data solely in the hands of the Government Statistician, or with any government official (or contractor) they delegate their powers to, without ethical oversight introduces considerable risk,” says Paddy Plunket.
LIANZA has asked the Minister to make the following revisions: Remove part 5 which creates the unsafe regime for accessing government data for ‘research’ purposes. And remove the powers to gather data for ‘research’ covered in Part 3 subpart 3.
This will provide a bill that updates the current regime for official statistics. Then work could begin on creating an exposure draft of a bill to govern the gathering and access of data for research purposes.
In 1976, in considering the Wanganui Computer Centre Bill, Parliament recognised the danger of intersecting data collections and required there to be a policy committee to provide oversight and governance of the computer centre. The committee was to consist of Government agency CEOs as well as external representation from the New Zealand Law Society and the New Zealand Computer Society.
“It appears that New Zealand has gone backwards in understanding and mitigating risks of access to this kind of data at a time when other governments have moved forward.”
LIANZA urges you to look to the Australian Data Availability and Transparency Act 2022 for an approach to data oversight. This Act creates a commission and advisory board to look at applications to use government data for research. We suggest that this could be an appropriate approach in New Zealand.