Privacy Commissioner outlines concerns over biometric technology

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Aug 16, 2022 |

The Privacy Commissioner is encouraging New Zealanders to have their say on the use of biometric technology.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner has launched its consultation paper, Privacy Regulation of Biometrics in Aotearoa New Zealand, and will be seeking public feedback until 30 September 2022.

Michael Webster said “Biometric technologies can have major benefits, including convenience, efficiency and security, but they can also create significant risks, including risks relating to surveillance and profiling, lack of transparency and control, and accuracy, bias and discrimination.”

Webster said the consultation aimed to hear from New Zealanders amid growing concern over this issue, such as examples of stores using Facial Recognition Technology as part of their CCTV systems.

“Our biometric information is uniquely sensitive to each of us. It’s the biological and behavioural details that make us who we are – it can include our facial details, voice, fingerprints or even how we walk.

Technology and privacy don’t need to be mutually exclusive, but organisations using biometrics do need to have appropriate safeguards and protocols.”

Submissions will help inform the potential drafting of further guidance or rules, enabling organisations to innovate and benefit from emerging technologies while protecting people from harm under the Privacy Act.

Michael Webster said the consultation document features a set of specific questions for people to answer aimed at building on information first presented in an OPC position paper on biometrics released last year.

The Privacy Regulation of Biometrics in Aotearoa New Zealand consultation paper is available here . Send submissions to [email protected]

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

Have you got a news tip? Get in touch here

got a news tip?