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Two thirds of New Zealanders want more privacy regulation - survey

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

On the heels of Parliament’s passing of a new Privacy Act, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner has released the results of its latest survey, showing that 65 percent of New Zealanders want more privacy regulation.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner survey - Privacy Concerns and Sharing Data - is a biennial snapshot of New Zealanders’ attitudes to privacy and information sharing.

The survey was conducted by UMR Research between the 31 March - 13 April and interviewed a nationally representative sample of 1,398 New Zealanders aged 18 years and older. The margin of error was +/- 3.1 percent.

More privacy regulation

Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of survey respondents were in favour of more regulation of what companies can do with their customers’ personal information, while 29 percent were happy with the same level. Just 6 percent overall called for less regulation. Men (9 percent) were more likely to want less privacy regulation than women (4 percent).

Main privacy concerns

New Zealanders’ privacy concerns centred on unauthorised business sharing of their personal information (75 percent); theft of banking details (72 percent); and security of personal information online (72 percent). While of lower concern, 41 percent of respondents were concerned with the use of CCTV and facial recognition technology.

Māori were more likely to be "very concerned" about individual privacy (41 percent) compared with other ethnicities (27 percent).

Fifty-six percent of respondents were either ‘concerned’ or ‘very concerned’ about individual privacy and the protection of information, down from 67 percent in 2018.

Awareness of Privacy Act and Privacy Commissioner

Awareness of the Privacy Act remained high at 81 percent, and awareness of the Privacy Commissioner was relatively steady at 73 percent.

Those aged 18-29 were significantly less likely to declare an awareness of the Privacy Act (57 percent) than other age groups.

Māori and Pasifika respondents were also less likely to declare awareness (69 percent and 63 percent respectively) than other ethnic groups.

People concerned about business sharing their data without permission

Three-quarters (75 percent) of respondents were either concerned or very concerned about businesses sharing their personal information without permission - compared to 65 percent who were concerned or very concerned about government agencies doing the same.

Just 18 percent of survey respondents agreed with the statement that they "feel in control with how their personal information is used by businesses", compared with 45 percent who disagreed. When it came to the same question about how the government used personal information, 26 percent agreed that they felt in control compared with 35 percent who disagreed.

Just 23 percent of respondents agreed that they had "a good idea of what companies and the government do with my personal information."

What digital privacy means to New Zealanders?

We asked participants: "In your own words, what does digital privacy mean to you?"

Digital privacy was often viewed by respondents in terms of security and protection of their online activities and information, particularly personal and financial details. People also saw digital privacy as giving them the right to control how their data was used.

Participants said:

"My confidential details such as bank accounts, medical things, unable to be accessed by anyone other than those they are intended for."

"Digital privacy for me, is having my freedom to do my transactions online without having the doubt of the safety of my personal information."

"That the information available about myself online is safe, secure and used with my permission for things that I have approved it to be used for."

"The right to have your digital information stored securely, without fear of it being breached or on-sold."

More info

This was the first year in which survey respondents answered entirely online. The previous survey in 2018 involved a mixture of telephone and online responses.

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