A beneficiary rights activist has cancelled her benefit to draw attention to the vulnerability of beneficiaries’ private information following the revelation that thousands of private files were accessible through public internet kiosks at WINZ offices.
Olive McRae, a domestic purposes beneficiary and spokesperson for Welfare Justice Dunedin, said she believed the incident was the largest breach of privacy of a government organisation in New Zealand history.
“I have been raising concerns about the systemic institutional disregard for privacy within MSD for the past two years,” Ms McRae said. “This large scale privacy breach is shocking but not surprising. What’s worse is that these issues have been raised time and time again by clients and advocacy groups across the country.”
“In 2009 the Minister accessed client’s personal information and leaked it to the media for political point scoring. The Human Rights Commission and the Privacy Commission raised concerns and ruled that her actions constituted a breach of privacy.”
“The Minister refused to accept their findings, and threatened to do it again. Earlier this year we had ten WINZ staff fired for accessing client’s private information. And now we find that the entire IT infrastructure is in jeopardy.” Read the rest of this entry »