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Privacy Commissioner criticises MSD policy

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 5/04/2017

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards says the Ministry of Social Development's policy that requires social service providers to disclose client information goes too far.

Under the policy, providers will have to give the client information to the ministry when they apply for funding.

Mr Edwards said in a report released on Thursday the requirement was "excessive and inconsistent with privacy principles".

"There is a real risk that the new arrangement will deter some people who are most in need from seeking support or assistance," he said.

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says the information is necessary.

"We know that many people are getting services from a number of NGOs, and we also know there are vulnerable families out there who are getting no services from NGOs," she told RNZ.

"So in order to make sure we have coverage, that there is no duplication and no gaps, we need to know who those NGOs are working with so we can make sure all vulnerable families are getting access to the services the government provides."

Labour and the Greens have opposed the policy from the start, and they're backing Mr Edwards.

"The report confirms Labour's belief that those who are most in need of social services, such as Women's Refuge, Rape Crisis and Mental Health Services, may be deterred from seeking support," said Labour's Carmel Sepuloni.

The Greens' Jan Logie says the government must drop the policy.

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