New Zealand investigates COVID-19 patient privacy breach

New Zealand’s Privacy Commissioner John Edwards announced that his office is undertaking an inquiry into the distribution of COVID-19 patient information by the Ministry of Health. The decision was made in response to the publication of Queen’s Counsel (QC) Michael Heron’s report into the patient privacy breach. The report looked into the report by the NZ Herald that it had received confidential patient information of 18 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on a spreadsheet that contains their names, dates of birth, age, and quarantine location. The information was leaked to the press by Hamish Walker, Member of Parliament for Clutha-Southland, with an intention to expose the government’s shortcomings in regards to privacy and data protection. The privacy commissioner will inquire what further action, if any, under the Privacy Act was appropriate.