Tag Archives: hipkins

The Minister is considering legal changes to the privacy of browsing data | Instant News


Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins has sought advice from officials on potential changes to the law that could address lingering privacy concerns with the NZ Covid Tracer app. Photo / Bevan Conley

Covid-19 Countermeasure Chris Hipkins has sought advice from officials on potential changes to the law that could address lingering privacy concerns with the NZ Covid Tracer app.

It comes after a prominent data expert and Privacy Commissioner John Edwards suggested changes to the law would ensure agencies can’t use tracking data for spying or criminal investigations.

The New Zealand app remains an important tool for helping tracers quickly trace the close contacts of people infected with Covid-19 – but at the same time, gathering large amounts of personal information from users.

The government has moved to ease surveillance concerns by creating “decentralized” applications, leaving location data – such as those loaded via QR codes – and interaction information, entered via Bluetooth tracking, on people’s phones until needed for contact tracing.

While this approach, widely used by other countries, helps protect user privacy, there is still little legislative protection against data used for other purposes by Governments.

Dr Andrew Chen, a researcher at Koi Tū: The Center for Informed Futures based at the University of Auckland, said one concern is that police or intelligence agencies could request a warrant for a phone call and then retrieve tracing data from it.

The Singapore government recently sparked protests when it passed a law allowing police to access data from the TraceTogether app for serious crimes such as murder, rape and drug trafficking.

In New Zealand, Chen noted that a recent police review of emerging technology suggests police have the tools and the ability to search data on cell phones.

This month, he wrote to Hipkins and Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield, suggesting New Zealand could take similar steps to Australia, which introduces amendments that define who and who is not allowed to use tracer app data, and for what purposes.

That effectively means that intelligence agencies that accidentally collect tracking data from cell phones have to erase the data and can’t use it.

But Chen told the Herald that there were still concerns surrounding the two scenarios.

“One of them is that law enforcement officers get access, as happened in Singapore, which is a major concern,” he said.

“The other thing is, just because the NZ Covid Tracer app is well designed, it doesn’t mean that other digital contact tracing tools are designed as well.”

For example, he said, there were about 30 different providers for QR code digital contact tracing in the past.

“We know, last year, there were companies that collected personal information from contact tracing and then used it for marketing purposes.

“So it’s actually nice to have some rules that specifically state data collected for the purpose of the Covid-19 pandemic should only be used to respond to it.”

Data expert Dr Andrew Chen.  Photo / Provided
Data expert Dr Andrew Chen. Photo / Provided

Chen previously suggested that the Government could amend the Public Health Response Act, but now believes the reforms would fit better elsewhere in the current law.

In a written response to Chen last week, Hipkins noted that Bluetooth location and contact data were recorded centrally only when given to the tracker – and even then, people can still decide if they want to release it.

“With the relatively small number of cases in New Zealand, there are very few people whose data is stored centrally,” said Hipkins.

“This data is well secured in the ministry system and the ministry has done only to use it for contact tracing purposes.”

Furthermore, he said, the application has protection that limits the time period for data storage.

Manually scanned and recorded locations are stored on the user’s phone for 60 days and then deleted automatically, while the Bluetooth interaction key is stored on the user’s phone for 14 days and then deleted.

Although data from apps uploaded to the ministry’s system is kept longer because some of it becomes part of a person’s health records, the ministry has committed to deleting it “in a specific category” at the end of the pandemic – including all contact details.

Hipkins claims that the risk of being used for surveillance is low, and has been told that the threshold for agencies forcing access to it is “quite high.”

The police also told Chen that they did not – and would not – seek or access any data from the app to aid in the investigation.

However, Hipkins acknowledged that the existing safeguards were “incomplete” – and pointed to similar suggestions for reforms being made by privacy commissioners.

“While digital contact tracing options are now more limited than ever before, I notice nothing is preventing people from using other existing options, or preventing new ones from emerging,” Hipkins said in the letter.

“I understand that the ministry has published standards and certification regimes for applications that use Government QR codes that include privacy expectations.

“However, alternative approaches are not prohibited, and for that reason the Government supports ensuring there is protection for all digital applications and tools used for contact tracing.”

He has asked the ministry for advice on possible legislative changes – a move that encourages Chen.

“It’s great to look at. At the same time, I think it’s important to convince people that the risk here is low – and that we should all use this app as much as possible.”

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Australia Blocks Travel As New Zealand Confirms Its First New Covid-19 Case In Months | Instant News


Top line

New Zealand officials confirmed Monday’s case of the highly contagious South African variant of the coronavirus, the first cases reported outside a quarantine facility in the country in months, prompting officials to do so. trail and cutting the potential for disease transmission through communities and forcing Australia to immediately halt travel bubble-free quarantine travel.

Key facts

A 56-year-old woman tested positive for the South African variant of Covid-19 after completing a two-week quarantine period at a hotel where she tested negative twice, New Zealand officials said Monday.

This is New Zealand’s first reported case of Covid-19 in months and health minister Chris Hipkins said It is “very likely” that the woman caught the virus from other people living in the quarantine facility.

15 of the woman’s close contacts have been identified and are being contacted, said Head of Health Ashley Bloomfield, adding that her husband and hairdresser, her closest contact, had tested negative.

The confirmation prompted Australia to immediately halt the bubble of quarantine-free travel with the island nation for 72 hours, which health minister Greg Hunt said was done “out of extreme caution” given the contagious South African variant and the woman outside. Public.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was told TVNZ said that although it has confidence in New Zealand’s disease control measures, “it is Australia’s decision on how they manage their borders.”

Key Background

New Zealand is widely considered to be one of the most successful countries in controlling the Covid-19 pandemic, practically eliminating transmission within its borders. According to the health ministry websiteThe last reported infections due to community transmission occurred on November 18 and Johns Hopkins University reported a total of 2,288 cases and 25 deaths across the pandemic. The figure stands in stark contrast to many other developed countries, such as the US or the UK, even when adjusted for population and that success can, in part, be attributed to the strict lockdowns imposed and the country’s geographic isolation. Having largely brought the pandemic under control at home, Ardern wanted to help other countries around the world, at one point offerings up to Biden’s New Zealand health experts transition team to share what they have learned.

Important Quote

Ardern turn off called on New Zealand to close its borders in response to the news. “You will see that there is almost no country in the world that closes its borders to its citizens,” he said, adding that it doesn’t help to blame people with Covid-19. “Sometimes there is a tendency to be blamed. The message that I really want to convey here is that the most important for us is that people who are not well get tested, “Ardern said. “And they are less likely to do that if they feel they will be attacked if they test positive.”

Further reading

New Zealand confirmed its first COVID-19 case in months, triggering a halt to Australian travel (Reuters)

New Zealand, With Covid-19 Outbreak Under Control, In Conversations With Biden As US Exceeds 12 Million Cases (Forbes)

Full coverage and live updates about Coronavirus

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