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Un-edited statements from the health sector and beyond

Privacy Commissioner issues civil defence national emergencies (information sharing) code

Marie Shroff privacy commissioner Monday 04 March 2013, 12:43PM

Media release from Marie Shroff privacy commissioner

Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff today issued a code of practice that permits broad information sharing in the event of national emergencies.

"When a national emergency strikes, response agencies need to be certain whether they can share information with others," said Ms Shroff. "The last thing they need is to spend time second-guessing. And agencies that are planning for future emergencies have to be certain what the law will allow them to do, so they can factor that into their planning process."

"This code gives them certainty," said Ms Shroff. "Once a national emergency is declared, it will allow personal information to be collected, used and disclosed as part of managing the response and recovery process.  For instance, it allows personal information to be collected and used to identify people present, missing, or injured in a disaster zone. It also makes sure families of those affected can be kept updated.

Immediately after the Canterbury Earthquake in February 2011, the Privacy Commissioner issued a temporary code of practice to authorise information sharing that would help with the response.

When the Commissioner evaluated the temporary code, it was found to have been useful and practical. As a result, she decided that it was important to have a code that would be triggered without delay if a national emergency were declared in future.

The code and guidance material is available at www.privacy.org.nz

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