Defending the Privacy of Client Data

Individual Client Level Data

NZCCSS has joined with others from the ComVoices network to take a leadership role in opposing the collection of Individual Client Level Data.  This work has included supporting the crafting of an issues paper and a letter to Ministers. While the recent agreement to delay implementation for specialist sexual violence services is welcome it does not go far enough, nor will it allay the fears of many vulnerable clients to sharing their data with MSD or with the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki.

We have attended many meetings with officials where they have continually affirmed that their ministers are determined to have individual client level data collected. In their recent communications with service providers Community Investment asserts the collection of individual client level data will support them to determine whether clients:

  • receive the right mix of services available to them
  • receive services that meet their needs
  • access services that achieve results

Yet nowhere in the information does it say how this data will be used to ascertain the right mix of services, or how individual level data can identify client need or ensure they access services that achieves results.

NZCCSS along with others has asked for more detail, for an explanation of how the data collection will be used to achieve the things they say it will.

On the 3rd of October 2016 NZCCSS made an Official Information Act Request seeking a range of information regarding individual client data collection. This information was finally received on 16 March 2017. Garth Nowland-Foreman has written his analysis of the information received and this is published in another article in this edition of Kete Kupu. Of note is the lack of any explanation of how the Individual Client Level Data collected will achieve any of the claims made. This reinforces NZCCSS’s opinion that Community Investment needs to provide more detail into how the data will be used to generate information that will inform them of appropriate service mix, client needs and client success – and demonstrate how valid and reliable this evidence will be.

Social services providers are not opposed to collecting data to demonstrate the effectiveness of their services. Our members would provide a mix of anonymised and identifiable data directly to the Statistics New Zealand operated Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) as this data, once matched, is anonymised and the individual identifiers are protected from disclosure by both legal and ethical frameworks.  We would like to see more work going into this as a viable solution to the quandary we are currently facing.