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Privacy regulation of biometrics in NZ – Privacy Commissioner invites submissions

Home Insights Privacy regulation of biometrics in NZ – Privacy Commissioner invites submissions

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Contributed by: Liz Blythe, Louise Taylor and Vaash Singh

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Published on: August 15, 2022


Following the Office of the Privacy Commissioner's (OPC) position paper on the regulation of biometrics in New Zealand, the OPC has released a consultation paper seeking submissions on how biometrics (including facial recognition technology) should be regulated to protect privacy in New Zealand.

Regulation on biometrics will affect any organisation developing or using biometric technologies in their business in New Zealand – such as facial and voice recognition and fingerprint scanning technologies.

What is biometric information?

The OPC defines "biometric information" as "information about an individual's biological or behavioural characteristics: for example, a facial image, a fingerprint pattern or a digital template of that image or pattern". Biometric information is considered sensitive personal information and is currently regulated by the Privacy Act 2020.

Why are biometrics being considered for further regulation?

Key drivers behind the call for greater regulation of biometrics include:

  • the increasing role and use of biometrics in New Zealand;

  • growing concern around the adequacy of the current regulation for facial recognition technology in particular (and biometrics in general); and

  • specific concerns about the impact of facial recognition technology and other biometrics for Māori.

Submissions will help inform the potential drafting of further guidance or rules under the Privacy Act 2020.

Next steps

The OPC consultation paper can be viewed here. Public submissions are due by Friday 30 September 2022 and the OPC will aim to share its findings and proposed regulatory approach by the end of 2022. 
If you have any questions regarding the issues raised in the OPC consultation paper, how a further regulation on biometrics might affect organisations in your industry or if you require support in responding to the OPC's request for submissions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

This article is intended only to provide a summary of the subject covered. It does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. No person should act in reliance on any statement contained in this publication without first obtaining specific professional advice. If you require any advice or further information on the subject matter of this newsletter, please contact the partner/solicitor in the firm who normally advises you, or alternatively contact one of the partners listed below.

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