New Privacy, Human Rights and Ethics framework essential step in safe data use

The Minister for Social Development, Carmel Sepuloni, has welcomed the Ministry of Social Development’s formation of a new set of ‘smart tools’ to ensure initiatives don’t breach clients’ privacy or human rights.

“Data and analytics has a valuable role to play in designing and delivering services that work for people. However, we need to carefully consider the potential harm new and innovative data uses may cause,” Carmel Sepuloni said.

“The ability to get greater value from our data relies on people being aware of, and comfortable with, how we use information.

The Privacy, Human Rights and Ethics framework (“PHRaE”) is a set of tools that users of information can utilise to ensure privacy, human rights and ethics have been considered from the design and development stage of an initiative.

“The PHRaE helps those designing services to question whether it is ‘right’ to use information just because there is access to it.

“Answering these questions can be complex and challenging but it is essential. In many cases information shared with MSD can be deeply personal and sometimes disclosed in situations of particular vulnerability

“I want to see a culture at MSD where people are treated with dignity and respect and this has to extend to how we collect and use people’s information. If we don’t’ get that right it can have a huge impact on whether people have trust and confidence to access the support they need from Government.

“I’m pleased this work has been welcomed by the Privacy Commissioner, his view is important to us.”

Carmel Sepuloni says there is potential to develop this approach for use further afield.

“The PHRaE has been developed for MSD use but, over time, could be used across government.  Some other agencies are exploring trialling it in the coming months.”

 Editor’s Note:

  • MSD has been developing a framework that ensures privacy, human rights and ethics are built into the way they develop new services, from the beginning of the design process.
  •  It started with a focus on predictive models and has been widened out to all initiatives where a client’s data is used.
  • The approach has been, and continues to be, trialled on new MSD initiatives in order to iterate the development of the approach.
  • This is showing clearly that having the Privacy, Human Rights and Ethics discussions at the beginning enables any risks to be minimised through adjusting design, and is resulting in increased awareness of what the risks are that need to be considered.
  •  The PHRaE encourages projects to think about the rights of the people whose information they’re using as they are designing what they’re going to do with the information.  The tools prompt discussion and consideration of rights and capture the evidence of how the project have considered these rights and the basis for decision making in relation to these rights.
  •  The PHRaE doesn’t replace the need to complete a Privacy Impact Statement, Human Rights or Ethics Assessment, but is a different way of demonstrating that the impact of the initiative on these areas has been considered.