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Transparency and Choice: Offer choices when you can

When applying the Data Protection and Use Policy (DPUP), understanding a person’s situation matters. Context can affect whether people should have a choice about providing personal information.

Understand the situation

People may have:

  • no choice — for example, a person may be required by a specific statutory provision to provide personal information when requested by an agency they had already applied for a particular benefit or service from
  • limited choice — for example, a person may need to accept that providing some level of personal information is an essential part of using the service in question, such as using a mental health counselling service (so the only choice is whether to accept the service or not)
  • some choices — for example, a person may choose to enrol in a drug and alcohol support programme where they will have choices about what experiences they do or do not share, and with whom.

Even when it’s not feasible for an agency to offer a person a choice about providing their information (for example, because the information is required to provide a requested service), it may still be possible to offer choices about:

  • how the information is captured — for example, by a member of an agency’s staff writing down what a person says versus giving someone a paper or online form to fill out
  • who is able to see or use the information — for example, by enabling people to record their wishes about limiting access and respecting those wishes.

It’s important that people who need to access a service to improve their wellbeing, or the wellbeing of their whānau, understand how their information will be collected and managed and the benefits of providing it.

When their only practical choice is to provide their information or refuse a service, having this understanding may help them to provide their information with confidence rather than refuse a service that could help them.

Identify choices

People who are involved in deciding what personal information may need to be collected for specific purposes should try to identify any choices that are consistent with the purpose and will not affect the outcome.

For example, cultural considerations or the fact that people have disabilities or are experiencing high levels of stress may warrant alternative approaches, including ways to confirm identity when individuals do not have a driver licence.

Alternative approaches may include:

  • putting processes in place to identify situations where it is acceptable to provide no, limited or alternative kinds of personal information
  • enabling people to agree to some purposes their personal information can be used for, but not others
  • enabling people to provide summary information if detailed information is particularly sensitive
  • enabling people to provide information anonymously if the purposes of collection can accommodate this.

Find more information about offering choices to certain groups of service users in the Purpose Matters Guideline.

Purpose Matters Guideline: Assess purpose and only collect what is needed

Things to consider

  • If you were asked, could you provide a clear explanation about why it is not feasible to offer people a choice about the collection of their personal information?
  • Do you need any help to make decisions on these issues and, if so, who can help? Can subject matter experts or service providers or client representatives help?

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