There is adequate data and privacy protection laws and these apply to the internet
New Zealand’s privacy laws are strong by international standards and these apply to the Internet.
The right to anonymity is protected
There is no specific “right” to anonymity, but protections for anonymity do exist. New Zealanders use anonymity and pseudonymity online to protect their privacy (for example, to prevent employers from accessing their personal online activities), and to prevent harassment and online stalking.55
State does not adopt real name registration policies
There is no real name identification system (by law or regulation) for access to the Internet. Citizens are free to use encryption technology, which is not prohibited. There are no laws requiring real name registration for those using the Internet in public places (such as cyber cafes). In practice some cyber cafes do require proof of identity or personal information (such as a telephone number or address).
Registration accompanied by proof of identity is required by many platform providers, for example, to register comments on public news sites or to buy or sell goods and services ISPs.
Leading New Zealand online platform providers require “accurate, complete and up-to-date registration information (for example, TradeMe56 and Stuff), adherence to acceptable use policies and permit use of a pseudonym for public purposes. Global platform providers which operate in New Zealand (such as Yahoo! and Facebook) apply their global terms and conditions. In practice, New Zealanders who wish to can enjoy a high degree of anonymity online through the use of pseudonyms and monikers.
There is little public information about use and enforcement of these more informal real name registration policies. There are no known cases of enforcement by government agencies of real name registration policies as a means to limit freedom of expression.
Limitations on privacy rights are exceptional (such as for administration of justice or crime prevention) and there are safeguards to prevent abuse.
Regulatory frameworks are generally sound and reviews of privacy laws are underway to consider how best to strengthen existing protections and to create innovation in responding to the exercise and protection of privacy rights online. Law enforcement surveillance of and access to devices and online accounts (for example requiring password disclosure) appear to be subject to the laws of evidence (namely, requiring a search warrant or other judicial order).
In practice, privacy is a major concern of internet users in New Zealand. There have been multiple serious incidents of large scale privacy breaches since 2010 including in relation to health, accident compensation, and social welfare and, most recently, insurance claims for victims of the Christchurch earthquakes. Public concern about breaches of privacy is high, yet knowledge of how to be secure online and better protect privacy (for example, how to change privacy settings in online platforms) appears to be low.
Outside of government, an area of increasing concern is the requirement for access to personal information about online expression by employers. This raises freedom of association and freedom of expression issues, particularly concern about chilling effect of third party viewing and also of disproportionate and detrimental or unfair treatment in employment.
Finally, at the time of writing this report, the New Zealand government was negotiating a multi-national trade agreement, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), with other countries including the US, Australia, Peru, Malaysia, Vietnam, Chile, Singapore, Canada, Mexico, and Brunei Darussalam. Leaked text suggests that the agreement would have serious negative consequences for users’ freedom of expression, right to privacy and due process, and would hinder innovation.57 A new campaign, A Fair Deal, had been launched, to combat these and highlight internet concerns had been commenced: http://fairdeal.net.nz/
55 For an interesting discussion of current uses:“Anonymity online: a necessary evil?” http://www.nethuisouth.net.nz
56 Clause 3.2 Terms and Conditions, TradeMe at: http://www.trademe.co.nz/Help/Popup.aspx?help_id=143 ; Membership c), Stuff at http://www.stuff.co.nz/about-stuff/1513434/Terms-and-Conditions