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New Zealand Commissioner considers establishing biometrics code of practice

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New Zealand Commissioner considers establishing biometrics code of practice
 

New Zealand Privacy Commissioner Michael Webster has announced he is considering the creation of a code of practice for biometrics.

Webster confirmed he has received 100 submissions during the public review of the commission’s biometrics regulation position paper, which was published in August.

“It shows there’s a real high level of interest out there,” the privacy commissioner says.

Within the comments, several agreed on the office’s position that biometric information is sensitive and unique to the individual. Since it is difficult to change, it needs careful protection.

Particular worries were also brought forward in terms of discrimination against Māori individuals, a topic that has been controversial in the country for some time.

“It is fair to say there were mixed views on the most appropriate type of intervention, but what was clear is that something more needs to be done,” Webster writes.

“We want to ensure New Zealanders and New Zealand businesses can harness the benefits of this technology but also be protected from potential harm.”

Moving forward, the privacy commissioner says his office will confer with agencies and people interested in what a biometric code may contain.

“We will be actively encouraging the public to take part in the consultation period because the use of biometric information will affect us all,” Webster adds.

“Advances in technology can offer great benefits, but it’s important that the benefits are enabled for all, and the public are safeguarded against risk.”

The privacy commissioner concludes by saying that the outcome of his conferences will inform his decision next year on whether to create a biometric code of practice or not.

At the same time, the lack of such a code is not preventing biometric deployments across the country, both from police forces and private entities.

A code of practice governing the use of biometrics in Scotland’s criminal justice system, said to be the world’s first, was launched a month ago.

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