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New Zealand welcomes input on draft biometrics code

New Zealand welcomes input on draft biometrics code

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of New Zealand is seeking public feedback on draft rules for the use of biometrics. A release from the office says the Commissioner has “drafted additional rules that New Zealand organizations would need to follow if they were using biometric technologies.”

“We’re keen to know whether New Zealanders agree with what we’ve drafted,” says Privacy Commissioner Michael Webster. “The Privacy Act 2020 regulates the use of personal information in New Zealand (and therefore biometrics), but we think biometrics need special protections especially in specific circumstances. Biometrics are fundamental to who a person is; they’re a very special type of personal information.”

Per the release, New Zealand does not currently have special rules for biometric technologies.

Questions being posed to the public address issues of informed consent, transparency, limitations, and proportionality in weighing the benefits and the risks of biometrics.

“The use of biometrics is growing and diversifying, and I want to ensure New Zealanders and New Zealand businesses that they can harness the benefits of this technology, but also be protected from potential harm,” says Webster. “Biometrics can be used to surveil and monitor large numbers of people or identify people on a watchlist and some of their uses are so highly intrusive that they shouldn’t be used lightly.”

Input on the exposure draft is welcome until May 8, 2024. Feedback can be emailed to biometrics@privacy.org.nz. Interested parties outside of New Zealand also benefit from a bit of Kiwi hospitality: commenters “can say a little or a lot,” says the Commissioner, “and don’t have to be a New Zealand resident to have their say.”

The full draft biometrics code and a consultation document can be found at privacy.org.nz.

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