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Privacy boss calls for rebuilding of faith in Govt agencies

Published: 8:31PM Monday February 17, 2014 Source: ONE News

The man charged with safeguarding our privacy says public faith in government agencies needs to be rebuilt.

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards says he wants to help rebuild public confidence that personal information is safe.

"There are rules, and those rules need to be respected," he said.

Mr Edwards's comments come as privacy whistleblower Bronwyn Pullar calls for more power and resources for the Privacy Commission.

"The last couple of years have created a high profile for privacy, so I think it's more top of mind in government and in private organisations and health organisations," she said.

Two years ago, health organisation ACC sent Bronwyn Pullar the confidential details of 6,500 clients.

It was described as the biggest privacy breach in New Zealand history, but was quickly followed by privacy breaches by the Earthquake Commission and Work and Income, among other government agencies.

However, none of those agencies were fined as punishment and the Privacy Commissioner says a fine wouldn't change anything.

"The harm that happens to the reputation of those organisations through being named and shamed by the commissioner is probably more substantial that the fine," Mr Edwards said.

Bronwyn Pullar thinks fines are a good idea, but only if breaches continue to happen.

Justice Minister Judith Collins announced a review of the Privacy Act almost two years ago, but all her office could tell ONE News today is that a bill is expected to be announced later this year.