Kiwis wary of sharing data: study

Data Futures Partnership released a study discussing New Zealanders attitudes towards sharing...
Data Futures Partnership released a study discussing New Zealanders attitudes towards sharing data. Photo: Supplied

New Zealanders’ levels of comfort with organisations’ use of personal data depends on their own experiences, the Data Futures Partnership chairwoman says.

"If people have experienced good data sharing in the health system [for example], then they have a higher level of trust and they value more what can be done," Dame Diane Robertson said.

"People who have had notso-good experiences, where perhaps their data didn’t get passed on in the right time, they’ve had to fill in multiple forms, then they tend to be more distrusting and see less value in it."     

The Data Futures Partnership was appointed to gauge New Zealanders’ levels of comfort with organisations’ collection and use of personal data through an online tool and a series of in-person workshops.

Responses will inform draft guidelines to be reported to the Government in June or July. 

A workshop was held on Monday in Dunedin at the North-East Valley Bowling Club.   

Participants were asked to indicate levels of both trust and benefit on a scale from one (low) to seven (high) on data use in three scenarios: education, health and transport.

Each scenario graduates from an A to B and C in which the use of the data is expanded.

Dunedin participants were reluctant about sharing personalised information but more comfortable when data was anonymous.

One participant, however, consistently registered low trust and benefit for each scenario.

Better-informed consent was among the ideas which participants said would increase their level of comfort.

An online tool offers the same scenarios asking the same questions and is available on     

The scenarios were designed to "tease out" New Zealanders’ upper and lower tolerance limits for data collection and use, Dame Diane said.  

No decisions had been made about the guidelines, but Dame Diane said organisations which obtained data about an individual could have their use of data limited to a specific defined purpose.

Data also offered significant opportunities such as medical advancements, she said.

It could help address social issues by directing resources towards people most in need.

However, data by itself was not the solution.     

"You need both the data and the human intervention because we’re not just all a statistic — we are individual people and there are different things that have an effect on us or that may change the way we are perceived."


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