New Zealand’s Privacy Commissioner, Marie Shroff, in a submission to the Law Commission, has supported closing gaps in the current legal framework around privacy.
The Commissioner made a submission to the Law Commission’s Stage 3 issues paper “Invasion of Privacy: Penalties and Remedies”, which looks at changes needed to the criminal and civil law to deal with invasions of privacy.
One central consideration was the privacy tort, and whether New Zealanders should continue to be able to sue in the courts when a person’s privacy was breached. Ms Shroff supported having a privacy tort, saying that it was an important right for New Zealanders. “The tort has a particular value in areas beyond the Privacy Act’s reach, such as the media, or where the Act’s mechanisms are less suitable than those of the tort.
“The courts also have the power to grant an injunction against publication of material, where there is a serious and urgent privacy risk,” said Ms Shroff. The Commissioner noted that the Privacy Act’s processes do not allow for injunctions to prevent publication of information.
The Law Commission’s paper also looked at changes to surveillance laws. Ms Shroff said she saw a need for better redress for victims of harassment and intrusion – including, for instance, where there was intrusive surveillance by neighbours. The Commissioner also supported the development of a tort of intrusion into personal or private space.
Ms Shroff said there was now a need to better regulate surveillance by state and private investigators.
The Privacy Commissioner’s submission called for gaps in the criminal law to be plugged in the use of spyware and RFID skimming. Among the range of other issues covered, Ms Shroff said she also supported an offence being created to cover the covert use of tracking devices.
“Technology innovations are developing quickly in the area of video surveillance and tracking and could present future challenges to personal privacy” said Ms Shroff. She cited examples of sensor technology being combined with CCTV, video analytics, and the interlinking of surveillance systems.
Source: Privacy Commissioner