InternetNZ has launched a set of reporting tools to help New Zealand organisations to boost transparency around the customer information they provide to government agencies.
“Organisations such as internet service providers and banks routinely collect customers' information as they provide services, and this information can be requested any time by the government,” InternetNZ said.
The organisation’s ‘Easy Transparency’ tools enable organisations to produce transparency reports that “outline these requests and show consumers what kind of information the government has asked for and how much information companies gave.”
InternetNZ CEO, Jordan Carter, said: "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.”
"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,” Carter added.
Easy Transparency comprises a set of templates that organisations can download from the InternetNZ website or from GitHub and incorporate into existing websites. Also included are a suggested policy statement and a set of FAQs that organisation can add to their websites.
However InternetNZ cautions that transparency reporting “is not a five minute job”. As examples of organisations that should be undertaking transparency reporting it lists medium-sized or large ISPs; online services providers (such as Trade Me, Xero and Vend); any organisation in the financial sector; any organisation with a large customer base; and any organisation that maintains a large amount of personal information (including so-called metadata).
InternetNZ says Easy Transparency builds on earlier work by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner, John Edwards, who has welcomed the move.
"Transparency reporting is a key tool to building trust with the public, not just for the businesses who report but for Government departments too,” Edwards said. “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."