1491949545413 - Data-sharing blunder by ministry of social development to be probed

Data-sharing blunder by ministry of social development to be probed

An independent review will be held into a Social Development Ministry IT system after a privacy blunder involving data supplied by charities.

The ministry was last week forced to shut down an information-sharing portal because of a privacy flaw that could have allowed officials from one non-government organisation (NGO) which had a contract with the ministry to view client data supplied by another.

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said it was disappointing that a briefing provided by the ministry had raised “more questions than answers” on the security of the system and how it had been overseen. 

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Tolley said it was important clients and providers had confidence that their information was protected.

The independent review will be headed by former Deloitte consultant Murray Jack, who is due to report back by the end of the month on the circumstances that led to the breach.

He will also review “the decisions made on why the portal was used and the security steps taken, as well as the governance and management of the project”, Tolley said.

Prime Minister Bill English has been an enthusiastic proponent of using data-sharing and data analytics to improve the provision of public services, and welfare services in particular, appointing Amy Adams as the first ever minister of “social investment”.

The Data Futures Forum, a public-private partnership, has been holding extensive public consultations on the public’s attitude to data-sharing.

One of the questions it has been investigating is the extent to which people’s acceptance of data-sharing and analytics is influenced by their understanding of the specific benefits that it is expected to deliver.