Media concerned about privacy just days after the Panama Papers

Do they even realise how dumb they look?

Bill English — Finance Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and now prospective Big Brother; he wants to bring together the data held by 10 government agencies so that more can be known about Kiwis.

The agencies include health, education, social development, justice and Inland Revenue. It will create what he calls a “data highway”.

He’ll give government workers access to it, even on their smartphones, so they can draw information on people from multiple sources before making decisions that affect them.

The data has already shown New Zealand’s 10,000 most vulnerable people will cost taxpayers $6.5 billion over their lifetimes.

“We’re using the same tools that every other business in the world is using to understand much more about our customers,” says Mr English.

Now the Finance Minister wants to go much further and use the information to target families and funding, like Facebook uses its algorithms to target adverts.

Excellent news.  We’re dealing with ONE government.  It’s absolutely absurd to have to have information all over the place.  How many times have you had to prove who you are, where you live, if you were really born, and so on?  It’s tiring and ultimately it is inefficient both ways.   And that’s just the basics.

“We’re not looking at reducing privacy or confidentiality,” he says. “We’re looking at sharing it.”

The sharing is already well underway in what’s called the Integrated Data Infrastructure, which already has 166 billion facts and 177 active projects.

Mr English is already using it to turn down funding for proposals in this year’s Budget.

He says when it comes to at-risk youth, getting the full data picture could save lives. Social workers or other government agents could even access it by smartphone.

The big data plan is backed by Diane Roberston, formerly of Auckland’s City Mission.

The contentious bit is of course privacy, but Mr English’s message is simple — we’ve got the data, let’s use it.

Exactly.  Only the other day we saw the benefit of flagging passports of tourists if they are trying to leave the country with unpaid fines in their wake.

But oh no – privacy.   Privacy my arse.  The same people feast on the private details of individuals.

But government is bad, dangerous and must be stopped at all times.  Instead, we just complain about how kids fall between the cracks among CYF, police, WINZ and so on, and we won’t actually do a bloody thing to try and help them…  nope… not if you’re the media.

Bloody hypocrites.


– Paddy Gower, Newshub


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  • Dave

    Just do it, WINZ and others can give the client an opt out clause before signing on for a benefit, if they don’t want the data collected, shared and used, they can decline any benefit or assistance. That’s 30% of the problem solved.

    Oh, cant wait for WINZ to have access to any “clients” list of outstanding debts to the justice system, overdue tax returns, so they can decline any increase in funding or further assistance until all outstanding matters are resolved. HNZ could use it to really assess a clients suitability etc etc.

  • Orca

    Quite right Media, if that nasty Mr English and his nasty government departments want access to that data, they should go by the book and do the same as any honest reputable journalist would do, hire a hacker to get it!

    • Dog Breath

      The irony being it’s not about govt departments having access to the data as its their data in the first place so the government already has this data it’s just scattered all over the place so if there are privacy concerns that should have been expressed and resolved long ago. This is about making efficient use of the data they already have.

  • Keanne Lawrence

    What has taken so long? While the previous administration was restricted by it’s PC pandering the cracks just got wider for too many to “work the system”. While it still dominates the whingers thinking thankfully the present Government are not so easily deflected. Likewise there were innocent casualties even too young to know the difference between 0 and 1 that make the data bank.
    Privacy went out the window with the hacking of personal and private information for personal gain. This highlighted that individuals data is not safe in separate or cumulative data banks.

  • Keeping Stock

    Where was the media’s concern for the privacy of people who had corresponded with Cameron Slater when his computer was hacked by a criminal two years ago? And is it any wonder that the media is now regarded alongside politicians in the public trust and respect scale?

  • Wayne Hodge

    the media protestations are hypocritical at best and probably and in reality rubbish

  • DangerMice

    Talking about this on Paul Henry this morning,Paddy said the government was to be congratulated for this. Nearly drove off the road in shock.

    • Keeping Stock

      I heard that too DangerMice. I had to hurriedly rewind the MySky and listen to it again. I’m not used to Paddy Gower praising the current Government.

  • Just me

    My prediction:
    Once individuals are uniquely identified this will open a veritable “tsunami” of double dipping, fraud, and deception once the data is matched. Everything from tax evasion, to benefit fraud and abuse of various agencies supporting unscrupulous people at almost every level…

    The catch is… there will be no mechanism for dealing with it. Fines? Incarceration? Passport control? Arrests?
    Can’t come fast enough… but the judiciary and police will be totally unable to deal with the repercussions…

    Then there will be amnesties and devious and despicable will buy themselves enough time to wrought the system in other ways.

  • Nermal

    One of the marvels of databases, computer systems and networks (including the internet) is the ability to collect and use all relevant information to make the best possible decisions.

    I personally would be quite happy to be microchipped like my cats. Then whether I went to the ATM, bank, WINZ, doctor, ambulance, police check for licence, supermarket, airport, swimming pools, I could just flash my wrist and they know it’s me. No having to carry a wallet full of IDs.

    Like Dave says, the lefties could opt out.

  • SlightlyStrange

    Interestingly, watching the news report on Newshub last night about this, they actually seemed quite neutral on it – while they raised the “privacy” bogeyman, they didn’t beat us over the head with it, instead seeming to focus on “helping those that will cost the most”.