Wednesday, 17 November 2021

 

New Zealanders generally are very protective of their personal privacy. They do not like officialdom to know any more about them than is absolutely necessary and have traditionally been sceptical of attempts by governments trying to gather more personal information. 

Musings by successive governments from time to time since the 1980s about the practicality and inevitability of some form of individualised standard number or national identity card for everyone have been consistently and soundly rejected by public opinion. Yet, at the same time, there has been an almost seamless uptake of an individualised IRD Number; a National Health Number; specific numbers for Ministry of Social Development and Accident Compensation services. Now, through the Smart Start programme introduced a few years ago it is possible to track a person’s full interactions with all range of government services, literally from the cradle to the grave. 

Although our national wariness of a universal individual number to replace each of these specific numbers remains this is not because we are resistant to the potential advantages in terms of service delivery, but more because we are still fundamentally wary of the information being collected being misused by authorities. And, for good reason – there are still too many instances where personal information collected by government agencies for one specific purpose is being shared inappropriately or misused for some other purpose. The recent case involving Accident Compensation staff is the latest example. 

An important principle underpinning our privacy law has been that information collected by the state can only be used for the purposes for which it was collected, no matter its potential relevance to other agencies. Over the years, successive Privacy Commissioners have been extremely vigilant in defence of this principle, even when governments have attempted to push out the boundaries for well-intentioned reasons. While this has caused annoyance and frustration from time to time and occasional dark mutterings about the need to curb the Privacy Commissioner’s enthusiasm, the principle is a sound one, which has so far stood the test of time. 

It may be about to be tested in a way and on a scale not envisioned at the time when the original Privacy Act was being developed in the early 1990s, through the government’s just introduced vaccine pass. 

The introduction of a vaccine pass has been an inevitability for some time, as a precondition for New Zealand being able to resume a measure of normality as it adjusts to living with Covid19, and for New Zealanders to be able to travel once more. Most other countries have been moving in a similar direction for some time now, meaning New Zealand would have truly become the hermit kingdom had it not done likewise. 

But while inevitable and necessary – at least in the short term while the virus remains rampant – the introduction of the vaccine pass is not without significant issues that need to be carefully considered, to prevent its misuse. 

The Covid19 Minister has described the pass as official proof of vaccination and a ticket to enjoy the extra freedoms that will come with the COVID-19 Protection Framework”. That is unobjectionable in so far as it goes, but the devil is always in the detail. The more pressing question relates to how the pass will be used, and any threats to personal privacy within that. 

According to the Minister, the pass “will mean people will be able to do the things they love, like going to concerts and music festivals, nights out at bars and restaurants, and going to the gym and sports events”. However, it will not be required for essential services like supermarkets, petrol stations, or pharmacists, although the wider retail sector will have some flexibility about whether to require customers to use the vaccine pass. 

Two main potential problems lie within this approach. The first relates to consistency and enforcement. Given the flexibility implied for the retail sector, it is certain there will be cases of some retailers adopting tougher requirements than others, and much public aggravation as a consequence. Rather than this ambivalent approach to the retail sector, the government would have been better off to either exclude the retail sector altogether or make the presentation of the vaccine pass a mandatory pre-condition of entry to all stores. As there are currently some retailers, including some of the so-called essential services, that are acting as though we are still in Alert Level 4 and imposing tougher restrictions than they need to, there is a real risk of the requirements around the vaccine pass being extremely variable and inconsistent, if left to individual retailers to decide for themselves. That is a recipe for public confusion and frustration, which the government would be unwise to ignore. 

This raises the issue of enforcement. If individual retailers are to be effectively left to make up their own rules about use of the vaccine pass, where does responsibility for enforcement lie? It is not reasonable to ask the Police to be involved, despite what the government says. That leaves enforcement potentially in the hands of individual retailers and their security guards, which is a further recipe for inconsistency and abuse. In other contexts, the government has consistently said it does not believe in leaving the administration of the law in private hands, so it needs to seriously rethink its approach to the retail sector before going too much further. 

The second major potential problem relates to the way in which the information in the vaccine pass will be used. Ideally, the pass is equivalent to a driver’s licence which is a permit to drive a motor vehicle. Likewise, the vaccine pass is a permit to undertake certain activities or enter certain premises. Its scope needs to be restricted to that function. It should not be used for building up client and customer databases about who has and who has not been vaccinated, for example. The role of the pass must be kept purely functional, a ticket to freedom to paraphrase the Minister, and nothing more than that. 

Any future attempt to adapt the vaccine pass to contain wider information about the holder’s other vaccination or general health status that might be of interest to a service provider must also be resisted as totally inappropriate and beyond the comparatively limited scope of the vaccine pass. There is always a tendency to extend the scope and prolong the life of interventions like the vaccine pass long after they have become unnecessary. In that regard, it is good that the pass will have to be renewed every six months and the hope has to be that it can be phased out for domestic use before too long, although obviously it is likely to be a long-term requirement for international travel as that resumes. 

The vaccine pass is an important part of life returning to a degree of normality, a necessary evil if you like. The rules around its use therefore need to be simple, but circumscribed. That we are prepared to accept it at all shows how far New Zealanders’ attitudes have shifted during the pandemic. But it would be unwise for the government to assume that means our traditional determination to protect our personal privacy has softened and no longer matters.

 

6 comments:

  1. All these concerns are relevant but redundant when we consider there shouldnt even be such thing a vaccine passport.

    The whole thing was nothing more than a stick to get vaccination numbers up.

    If we hit 90% or everyone who wants to be, then that's it. What purpose does this enforcement have?

    But yes, they will push on forward with it. Personally I cant wait to see the videos pop up of retail staff copping the abuse that will come with it.

    Fully vaxxed here, but haven't despised humanity more than currently with the behavior in this space. Say no to vaccine certificates

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Natural herbs can cure epilepsy, I had epilepsy for over 9 years, i have spent a lot money getting drugs from the hospital to keep me healthy, I went to many hospitals for cure but there was no solution, One day I was in the office going through the internet when I saw a post about Dr Sayo herbal medicine on how he cure a Lady from UK who was suffering from HIV and she listed Epilepsy as list of illness Dr Sayo can as well cured I contacted him with epilepsy Cure solution, I email him. He told me the things I need to do and also give me instructions on how to take the herbal cure, which I followed properly. Before I knew what is happening after 3 weeks To my greatest surprise after patiently going according to instruction given to me by Dr Sayo, my epilepsy was cure, I want to say a big thanks to Dr Sayo who God have sent to heal his people with his natural medicine I pray that God will bless you for the good work you are doing.for all who are still suffering from this illness, you can also contact him through his email on:;;  sayoherbalhealer@gmail.com  or whatsapp him +2349012175679 visit his website: http://sayoherbalhome.com/  or visit his FB page: https://www.facebook.com/SayoHerbalHealer like they say his herbal remedy is the only permanent solution to Seizure. He Can as well cure the following... Herpes Virus, HIV/Aids, Hepatitis A/B, Shingles, Cold Sore, Epilepsy, Wart, Lupus, Diabetes, Men/Woman Infertility, Seizure, Cancer all types.

      Delete
  2. Things are a bit more concerning than what you wrote. From what I read, as well as your vaccine pass, you need to show driver's license or passport as proof of identity. If this is so, then combined with the Zone borders, what makes it different to the regimes in Eastern Europe before the fall of the wall?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am so happy, i never believe i will be this happy again in life, I was working as an air-hoster ( cabby crew ) for 3years but early this year, i loose my job because of this deadly disease called Herpes virus (HSV), I never felt sick or have any symptom, till all workers were ask to bring their doctor report, that was how i got tested and i found out that am HSV positive that make me loose my job, because it was consider as an STD and is incurable disease, i was so depress was thinking of committing suicide, till i explain to a friend of mine, who always said to me a problem share is a problem solved, that was how she directed me to DR.USELU, that was how i contacted him and get the medication from this doctor and i got cured for real, I just went back to my work and they also carry out the test to be real sure and i was negative. Please contact this doctor if you are herpes positive or any STD diseases his email is: dr.uselucaregvier@gmail.com or you can call or whatsApp his mobile number on +2347052898482.Website
    https://druseluherbalhome.simdif.com/

    ReplyDelete
  4. Natural herbs can cure epilepsy, I had epilepsy for over 9 years, i have spent a lot money getting drugs from the hospital to keep me healthy, I went to many hospitals for cure but there was no solution, One day I was in the office going through the internet when I saw a post about Dr Sayo herbal medicine on how he cure a Lady from UK who was suffering from HIV and she listed Epilepsy as list of illness Dr Sayo can as well cured I contacted him with epilepsy Cure solution, I email him. He told me the things I need to do and also give me instructions on how to take the herbal cure, which I followed properly. Before I knew what is happening after 3 weeks To my greatest surprise after patiently going according to instruction given to me by Dr Sayo, my epilepsy was cure, I want to say a big thanks to Dr Sayo who God have sent to heal his people with his natural medicine I pray that God will bless you for the good work you are doing.for all who are still suffering from this illness, you can also contact him through his email on:;;  sayoherbalhealer@gmail.com  or whatsapp him +2349012175679 visit his website: http://sayoherbalhome.com/  or visit his FB page: https://www.facebook.com/SayoHerbalHealer like they say his herbal remedy is the only permanent solution to Seizure. He Can as well cure the following... Herpes Virus, HIV/Aids, Hepatitis A/B, Shingles, Cold Sore, Epilepsy, Wart, Lupus, Diabetes, Men/Woman Infertility, Seizure, Cancer all types.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I am here to give my testimony about a doctor who save my life. i was infected with HERPES for than 2 years, I tried different doctors over a period of time but no one work, but when i came on the Internet i saw great testimony about DR USELU  how he was able to cure someone from HERPES virus with the help of herbal medicine I contacted him and he promised to cure my herpes virus.well i decided to give him a try, DR USELU put his best in it and gave me good and effective result just as he has promised. well after taking all the treatment sent to me by Dr USELU I went back to the Hospital for check up, and now I have been confirmed HERPES Negative. You can contact him if you have any kind of sickness like, HERPES, HIV, CANCER, PILE, HEPATITIS, DIABETES, and alot more you can contact him ON Whatsapp (+2347052898482) or Email dr.uselucaregiver@gmail.com) https://druseluherbalhome.simdif.com/

    ReplyDelete