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Government privacy job a good idea: Shroff

11:56 Tue Nov 19 2013

Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff says the government is bringing itself up to speed with the private sector by appointing someone to be a government privacy troubleshooter.

Following a raft of highly publicised and controversial information leaks and blunders by government departments over the past couple of years, a new job title has been announced: government chief privacy officer.

"It is important that New Zealanders have confidence in government agencies to do all they can to ensure personal information is kept safe," says State Services Minister Jonathan Coleman.

The new position would give more support to the government's chief information officer Colin MacDonald, who is carrying out a two-year programme to improve New Zealanders' trust and confidence in government privacy and security practices.

Ninety-eight per cent of agencies now have accountability for privacy and security at senior executive level, compared to 21 per cent a year ago, the government says.

The chief privacy officer will have "co-ordinated engagement" with the Privacy Commissioner.

Ms Shroff said the new role was a good move as it had obviously been needed for some time.

"This move brings the government sector into line with many large private sector organisations. Global internet giants and banks position responsibility for privacy at a very senior level," she said.

"Even before the recent spate of privacy breaches, it was clear to us as the independent regulator that the public sector needed better privacy leadership and accountability."