The Privacy (Cross Border Information) Amendment Bill is currently before the Justice and Electoral Select Committee. The Bill seeks to amend the Privacy Act 1993 to introduce new rules to govern the cross-border transfer of personal data, and to facilitate the cross-border enforcement of privacy laws.
An important background factor is the increasingly stringent privacy rules of our trading partners, including in particular the EU. A 12 May 2009 Report by the Privacy Commissioner to the Minister of Justice contends that the Bill will enhance New Zealand’s chances of gaining an “adequacy finding” from the EU under the relevant directive and that this will be potentially advantageous from a trading perspective as “no other country in [New Zealand’s] time zone has obtained such a finding”. Countries which have “adequacy” status from the EU are able to send and receive personal information from the European Economic Area, comprising the 25 member states of the EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. Currently New Zealand’s privacy laws do not meet EU criteria with the result that companies trading with the EU must enter special contractual arrangements for data protection, resulting in additional transaction costs.