Privacy Act reform – implications for historians

PHANZA only became aware late last week that changes had been proposed to the Privacy Act 2020 that would have a direct effect on how historians gather and use information from oral sources. We were kindly alerted to this by our colleagues at NOHANZ, who made an urgent submission on the proposed changes. We followed suit. Both of those submissions were outside the period set aside for feedback but have kindly been accepted by the Ministry of Justice.

The Ministry is seeking to bring this country’s practices up to international standards. The principal issue is, as outlined on the Ministry of Justice’s information page, that the Act will require an ‘individual to be notified when an agency collects their personal information indirectly through a third party’. So this means that it will be mandatory for anyone undertaking recording interviews and/or depositing oral histories in an archive or library to notify anyone mentioned in that interview. NOHANZ and PHANZA feel that this will place an impossible burden on historians. As any historian will realise, it is often very difficult and sometimes impossible to find third-parties. We hope the changes will be amended to take our concerns into account. We will keep you updated on developments and would welcome any member feedback on the issue.