A bill to ensure that personal data sent to New Zealand from overseas is subject to New Zealand's privacy protection passed into law today.
The Privacy (Cross-border Information) Amendment Act enables individuals and businesses to assure their trade partners that New Zealand law protects their privacy.
"The Government recognises that in today's difficult economic environment we need to do everything possible to improve the international competitiveness of our businesses," Justice Minister Simon Power said.
"Until now, the Privacy Act 1993 has been silent on cross-border enforcement of privacy laws.
"This law changes that, and allows businesses to assure their international partners that their customers' personal information will be protected by the full force of the law."
The amendments to the Privacy Act remove a major barrier for businesses operating internationally, or who want to do so.
Currently, those businesses need to develop and enter into special contractual arrangements for the protection of personal data, which increases transaction costs, as well as being a disincentive for overseas entities thinking about doing business in New Zealand.
The law allows the Privacy Commissioner to prohibit data received from overseas being transferred outside New Zealand to a jurisdiction without adequate privacy protection.
The Privacy Commission will also be able to cooperate with overseas privacy enforcement authorities in consulting on, and transferring privacy complaints.