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InternetNZ launches business transparency tools to report mass surveillance

03 Aug 16

It might just become easier for Kiwis to see if 'mass surveillance' on their personal information is happening in New Zealand, after InternetNZ announced a new tool for organisations to deliver transparency reports.

The tools, called Easy Transparency, enable organisations to show what information the government has asked for and how much they provided. This is especially common amongst financial services and internet service provider, as they collect information for their services.

InternetNZ CEO Jordan Cater believes transparency reports demonstrate corporate responsibility as they track and provide information on government requests, and it also contributes to a 'healthier democracy'.

"Transparency reporting is important as it gives the public clarity around government requests for information. Kiwis should be able to find out what information is being shared with the government. With good transparency reporting, independent parties can help the public hold the government to account," Cater says.

"At the moment so few companies do transparency reports and we have no way of knowing whether existing government requests comply with the Privacy Act, and no way of knowing whether mass surveillance is actually happening in New Zealand," he continues.

Cater hopes that organisations will use the templates and follow the lead of TradeMe by filing their own transparency reports, without difficulty.

John Edwards, Privacy Commissioner, has endorsed Easy Transparency, particularly as the tools were based on previous work by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

"Transparency reporting is a key tool to building trust with the public, not just for the businesses who report but for Government departments too. It is excellent to see InternetNZ taking the lead here. The Easy Transparency tools mean that the first step to transparency reporting is even simpler," says Edwards.

Organisations can find Easy Transparency reporting templates on InternetNZ's website and on Github. The templates can be used in markdown, allowing easy incorporation into existing websites.

"I encourage companies delivering services to New Zealanders to look at these templates and start using them," Carter concludes.

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