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New Zealand privacy commissioner considers biometric regulation code

New Zealand privacy commissioner considers biometric regulation code

New Zealand’s Privacy Commissioner, Michael Webster, is considering the development of a regulatory code for biometric technologies. This Code of Practice for Biometrics would guide how organizations utilize and store biometric information, such as facial recognition data and fingerprints, which have raised significant privacy concerns in recent years.

In its investigation of the need for a code of practice to shield individuals from biometric information misuse while allowing government entities and businesses to use it safely, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) gathered feedback on its original position paper in 2022. Their public engagement report on the proposed biometric privacy regulation summarized the survey’s results.

“The use of biometrics is growing and diversifying,” Webster said. “We want to ensure New Zealanders and New Zealand businesses can harness the benefits of this technology but also be protected from potential harm.”

If the OPC decides biometric use in New Zealand requires increased regulation, Webster emphasizes the importance of extensive public involvement in the dialogue. “We will be actively encouraging the public to take part in the consultation period because the use of biometric information will affect us all. Advances in technology can offer great benefits, but it’s important the benefits are enabled for all and the public are safeguarded against risk.”

The OPC is now inviting a second wave of public feedback on the proposed rules for this code of practice. According to their website, the feedback period ends Sunday, Aug. 27. The feedback will inform the Privacy Commissioner’s decision on whether to release a draft code for consultation. A decision should be announced later in the year.

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