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121 posts

Master Geek
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Topic # 222800 29-Aug-2017 09:06
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I think that this story with Winston Peters and the over-payments is huge. I don't care about whether he was over-paid or not, but what I do care about is that our government agencies can't be trusted with our private data.

What is going on? Are there no data access protocols applied and is access to private data neither tracked nor restricted?

I'm really shocked at how lax our government's IT standards are. Does anyone working with govenment agencies know why this is so?

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  Reply # 1854563 29-Aug-2017 09:25
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Under public service rules Senior staff are required to brief their Ministers with incidents such as Winston Peters, especially during an election time. It is the No surprises rule. Any leak as such is more likely to have come from one of the floors in the Beehive and nothing to do with IT Departments.





Mike
Retired IT Manager. 
The views stated in my posts are my personal views and not that of any other organisation.

 

 It's our only home, lets clean it up then...

 

Take My Advice, Pull Down Your Pants And Slide On The Ice!

 

 




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Master Geek
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  Reply # 1854564 29-Aug-2017 09:27
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But it's private data - therefore not accessible by anyone in the beehive, yes?

 
 
 
 


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  Reply # 1854577 29-Aug-2017 09:37
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No, Ministers are entitled and of course should entitled to the data, they are the Crowns appointed overseers of the department. They are bound by the Information Act.





Mike
Retired IT Manager. 
The views stated in my posts are my personal views and not that of any other organisation.

 

 It's our only home, lets clean it up then...

 

Take My Advice, Pull Down Your Pants And Slide On The Ice!

 

 


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  Reply # 1854601 29-Aug-2017 10:13
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MikeB4:

 

No, Ministers are entitled and of course should entitled to the data, they are the Crowns appointed overseers of the department. They are bound by the Information Act.

 

 

However I do not trust MSD. I generally feel that their culture within is very wrong. If they care about their data as much as their clients then trouble is around the corner. They have access to all crown data sets including IRD, Health. They even use data matching to determine if one of their clients has had a hospital stay so they can reduce their benefit accordingly.


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  Reply # 1854602 29-Aug-2017 10:13
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MikeB4:

 

No, Ministers are entitled and of course should entitled to the data, they are the Crowns appointed overseers of the department. They are bound by the Information Act.

 

 

However I do not trust MSD. I generally feel that their culture within is very wrong. If they care about their data as much as their clients then trouble is around the corner. They have access to all crown data sets including IRD, Health. They even use data matching to determine if one of their clients has had a hospital stay so they can reduce their benefit accordingly.


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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1854615 29-Aug-2017 10:43
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Pumpedd:

 

MikeB4:

 

No, Ministers are entitled and of course should entitled to the data, they are the Crowns appointed overseers of the department. They are bound by the Information Act.

 

 

However I do not trust MSD. I generally feel that their culture within is very wrong. If they care about their data as much as their clients then trouble is around the corner. They have access to all crown data sets including IRD, Health. They even use data matching to determine if one of their clients has had a hospital stay so they can reduce their benefit accordingly.

 

 

This NZ Herald write-up is headed:

 

"Beehive knew of Winston Peters' super payments weeks ago."

 

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11912771

 

In this article it says that: "Peters said there was no justification for the information to have been disclosed under the "no surprises" policy, overriding his privacy."

 

But Peters might have known that somehow this information would be leaked out when it involves a senior MP having to refund benefit overpayments. There's no reason to assume the Nats did this, it could easily have been someone from MSD or elsewhere.

 

I hope this matter will serve to make all MPs even more careful about ensuring all of their personal financial matters meet the full ethical and legal expectations of the public.


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  Reply # 1854616 29-Aug-2017 10:43
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Pumpedd:

 

MikeB4:

 

No, Ministers are entitled and of course should entitled to the data, they are the Crowns appointed overseers of the department. They are bound by the Information Act.

 

 

However I do not trust MSD. I generally feel that their culture within is very wrong. If they care about their data as much as their clients then trouble is around the corner. They have access to all crown data sets including IRD, Health. They even use data matching to determine if one of their clients has had a hospital stay so they can reduce their benefit accordingly.

 

 

They do not have access to all Crown data. There are very strict rules about what they can access, what they can use it for, when they must use it by and how long they can retain it.





Mike
Retired IT Manager. 
The views stated in my posts are my personal views and not that of any other organisation.

 

 It's our only home, lets clean it up then...

 

Take My Advice, Pull Down Your Pants And Slide On The Ice!

 

 


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  Reply # 1854657 29-Aug-2017 11:36
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There may be strict rules, but the recent history of government data protection in NZ does not give one a whole lot of confidence.

 

 





I reject your reality and substitute my own. - Adam Savage
 


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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1854658 29-Aug-2017 11:38
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Is there really such a thing as "private data" these days?


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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 1854670 29-Aug-2017 11:50
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Wiggum:

 

Is there really such a thing as "private data" these days?

 

 

PM Bill English has issued a statement about the leak of Peter's information:

 


"I have no tolerance for leaks of this nature. Mr Peters is understandably concerned about how the matter became public and so am I.

 

"I have seen the statements issued by the State Services Commission and Inland Revenue.

 

"Ministerial Services (who are responsible for ministerial staff as their employer) will also look at how the information was handled within the relevant offices.

 

"My understanding is that two of my Ministers, Anne Tolley and Paula Bennett were advised of the matter by their respective Chief Executives (Social Development and State Services Commission) under the no surprises policy.

 

"I am advised they were informed that there had been an issue which had been resolved to the satisfaction of the Ministry of Social Development.

 

"Minister Tolley advised my Chief of Staff who made the judgement that it was not necessary for me or anyone else to be informed.

 

"Chief Executives make the decision on what to advise the Minister under the no surprises policy.  They do this carefully and in good faith.

 

"On this occasion, however, given the personal and confidential nature of the information, it would have been better for the Ministers not to have been advised.

 

"I believe that the leak did not come from within the Beehive or the National party. The two Ministers and my Chief of Staff have assured me of that.  I would take any leak very seriously."

 

This page also includes statements from IRD and the State Services Commissioner about the leak of this information, so it's now a big story that a lot of people are taking very seriously.

 

 


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  Reply # 1855144 30-Aug-2017 09:58
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MikeB4:

 

Pumpedd:

 

MikeB4:

 

No, Ministers are entitled and of course should entitled to the data, they are the Crowns appointed overseers of the department. They are bound by the Information Act.

 

 

However I do not trust MSD. I generally feel that their culture within is very wrong. If they care about their data as much as their clients then trouble is around the corner. They have access to all crown data sets including IRD, Health. They even use data matching to determine if one of their clients has had a hospital stay so they can reduce their benefit accordingly.

 

 

They do not have access to all Crown data. There are very strict rules about what they can access, what they can use it for, when they must use it by and how long they can retain it.

 

 

 

 

Sorry but they do have access to all crown data...

 

"Government departments are allowed to share information under data-match agreements, of which there are more than 50.

 

It's a "big brother" system designed to ensure people aren't paid money they are not entitled to.

 

MSD has more than 20 information-matching agreements.

 

There are agreements with Internal Affairs (to catch things like name changes, and payments continuing to dead people), ACC (no double-dipping for accident victims), Corrections (no paying benefits to prisoners), Customs (to catch people being paid NZ Super overseas, for example), Justice (fines defaulters), and the Inland Revenue Department."


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  Reply # 1855176 30-Aug-2017 10:48
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As I said there are very strict rules governing, what they share, when they can share and  its use.  There is oversight. As for all government data , no.





Mike
Retired IT Manager. 
The views stated in my posts are my personal views and not that of any other organisation.

 

 It's our only home, lets clean it up then...

 

Take My Advice, Pull Down Your Pants And Slide On The Ice!

 

 


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  Reply # 1855482 30-Aug-2017 20:11
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MikeB4:

 

Under public service rules Senior staff are required to brief their Ministers with incidents such as Winston Peters, especially during an election time. It is the No surprises rule. Any leak as such is more likely to have come from one of the floors in the Beehive and nothing to do with IT Departments.

 

 

I really didn't want to do this but yet again you're reducing complicated issues/questions on what is the law on these things -- i.e. a normative question -- into simple, ludicrous assertions of "fact" that are patently wrong. Yes, I understand that you have issues which prevent you from being able to type long, detailed replies but we just cannot have people on public forums discussing important issues merely asserting as matters of fact issues of this nature without evidence, especially when the assertion involved is patently wrong.

 

The "no surprises" rule was a policy/expectation enacted by the Helen Clark government. All civil servants must comply with the State Services Commission's Code of Conduct which is enacted and takes it authority from the Act itself. The Code of Conduct, amongst other things, require civil servants to be politically neutral. The Act has as two of its explicit purposes the following:

 

The purpose of this Act is to promote and uphold a State sector system that—

 

...

 

(c) maintains appropriate standards of integrity and conduct; and
(d) maintains political neutrality; 

 

Giving the Ministers this sort of information in respect of a political opponent during a time as sensitive as this, knowing full well that there will be a risk that such information can be used to disadvantage the political opponent is just wrong and is completely contrary to the purpose of the Act. And I emphasise the point that the wrongfulness here does not depend on whether the Ministers involved used the information against Winston Peters or not. No reasonable person can argue that there is no such risk that a political opponent of Mr Peters would not be at least tempted to use that information (and I emphasise that I don't know whether the Ministers used the information or not). The wrongfulness of the conduct is further exacerbated by the MSD choosing to do this stunt despite it maintaining that the issue was quickly resolved to its satisfaction.

 

More importantly, Mr Peters has rights to privacy under the Privacy Act. The rights guaranteed in the Privacy Act are also guaranteed in international instruments like the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which NZ has given a solemn commitment to upholding. NZ operates under a Westminster model of parliamentary sovereignty where, in the absence of a formal, supreme constitution, the "word" of Parliament is the law and it trumps everything else, including a "No surprise" policy enacted via the Cabinet Manual, i.e. an Executive branch document that does not have the formal force of law. 

 

Oh and you want a couple more coup de grace against your argument? The "No surprise" policy doesn't justify the MSD briefing a pure political appointee like Wayne Eagleson, the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff, who is in no way connected to the MINISTER of the Ministries concerned (Ministry of Social Development and State Services Commission). And Andrew Geddis, a highly regarded constitutional law professor, agrees with me that there is a prima facie concern in respect of the Privacy Act and that all policies must be applied consistently with primary legislation. The law is a weird thing -- it tends to be pretty objective. Most people who are semi-informed on it tend to come to more or less the same answer, albeit using slightly different arguments, on about 80% of issues.

 

For the sake of the rule of law, even as someone who absolutely despises Winston Peters, I hope he pursues all the MSD staff concerned to the hilt. IMO, these people deserve to lose their jobs, their reputations, and more. They have behaved absolutely in a lawless and disgraceful fashion.


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  Reply # 1855489 30-Aug-2017 20:24
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@dejadeadnz I am not disputing what you have posted above, however there are two issues here. (1) The release of Mr Peters Pension issues, (2) Government data matching process and rules. I was referring to the data matching which was referred to in this thread. I do not believe that the leak(if it is in fact a leak) of Mr Peters details has anything to do with data matching and related rules. Given its timing it is probably political.

 

If it is a leak by "others" that is clearly wrong and there should be repercussions for those concerned.





Mike
Retired IT Manager. 
The views stated in my posts are my personal views and not that of any other organisation.

 

 It's our only home, lets clean it up then...

 

Take My Advice, Pull Down Your Pants And Slide On The Ice!

 

 


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  Reply # 1855495 30-Aug-2017 20:38
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Your argument is becoming more or more confusing -- you have made various context-unclear statements like "No, Ministers are entitled and of course should entitled to the data, they are the Crowns appointed overseers of the department.", which is again hardly correct. Ministers should not be getting personal data in the overwhelming majority of instances. Christ, just read the Privacy Act. If there is a leak/possible leak of Winston Peters' issue by the MSD, given that you agree that the original briefing to the Minister was blatantly wrong (and I would argue unlawful), it's doubly disgraceful that the Ministers are briefed on the supposed leak on the basis of the "No Surprises" policy, since the original, highly questionable briefings would inevitably emerge and the second briefing yet again serves to offer the Ministers a political advantage in managing this sorry saga.

 

 


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