The Privacy (Giving Privacy Commissioner Necessary Tools) Amendment Bill has been defeated at first reading (more information is available here).  

The Member's Bill, introduced by Labour MP Sue Moroney, proposed to amend the Privacy Act 1993 to give the Privacy Commissioner the power to:

  • conduct audits of an agency’s practices and systems for handling personal information; and
  • issue notices requiring agencies found to have breached the Privacy Act to bring their practices into compliance with the Act.

The proposed amendments were recommended by the Law Commission as a part of a broader suite of recommendations following a review of New Zealand's privacy law (more information on the review is available here).  (The recommendations were a response to perceived problems with the current complaints-based system, where the OPC can generally only look into an alleged privacy breach if it has first received a complaint).

In his speech explaining the Government's opposition to the Bill, National MP Scott Simpson said that while the Government agreed that the Privacy Commissioner should be empowered to issue compliance notices, it did not support the proposed audit power.  He also said that the Government would prefer to address the Law Commission's recommendations as a whole.  He did not, however, provide any indication as to when it might do that (as explained in Issue 1 of infoRM (available here), the Government has previously indicated that it intends to address the Law Commission's recommendations in the form of a new, over-hauled Privacy Act).