22 November 2012

New Zealand immigration officials sacked over privacy breaches

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Figures released by the opposing Labour Party show that 10 Immigration New Zealand (INZ) staff have been fired in the past three years for improperly accessing client information.

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Over 200 people have had their privacy breached in the past three years but only 12 had been informed by New Zealand immigration officials.

An investigation in July revealed 51 INZ staff had been reprimanded in some form or other since 2004 for improperly accessing New Zealand immigration data with one complainant claiming the practice was rife.

And now it has been revealed that over 200 people's privacy had been breached by INZ staff in incidents which left 10 staff members jobless.

Labour's immigration spokeswoman, Darien Fenton, said only 12 of the 207 people whose information had been accessed had been informed of the breach.

"They should be upfront and honest about it," said Ms Fenton, adding that INZ stored massive amounts of personal information. "There are always risks and the government is being far too shabby about the way they are going about [storing personal information]."

Immigration Minister Nathan Guy defended the figures, claiming that the number of breaches was high because incidences were reported and staff members dealt with appropriately.

"Any breach of privacy is disappointing but it needs to be remembered that Immigration New Zealand makes around 500,000 decisions every year."

INZ General Manager Nicola Hogg echoed the minister's comments, stating that all staff were required to sign a code of conduct before being allowed access to client information.

"Only certain Immigration NZ staff have access to client files when it is necessary for their job," said Ms Hogg.

"Employees must not access records of well-known members of the public for reasons not connected with their work."

The New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy that specialises in helping people apply for a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa.

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