The New Zealand Law Commission is consulting on proposals for a new Privacy Act.   This is part of a “Review of Privacy Project”  which began in October 2006 and has, so far, generated three “issues papers”, one “study paper” and two reports – the most recent of which was the subject of a post on this blog in February.    The papers which it has produced are thorough, well informed and thought provoking, drawing on case law and academic writings from across the world.

On 3 March 2010, the Commission produced an “Issues Paper” on the Privacy Act – this deals with “data protection” issues.   In order to encourage debate and discussion, in a recent speech the Law Commission President Sir Geoffrey Palmer offered a “chocolate fish” for whoever can define privacy.

The result of the competition have been announced.  The winner was our fellow blogger, Steven Price, the author of the Media Law Journal blog for this definition

“Privacy is what people believe they have lost when they complain about their privacy being infringed”.

In his post celebrating his victory, he points out that

many entrants made the mistake of making a serious attempt to define privacy, and most of them submitted definitions revolving around control of personal information. What this misses is privacy invasions that consist of invading private spaces or paying unwanted attention. On a serious level, I think my colleague Dr Nicole Moreham has come up with a pretty robust and workable definition of privacy as a state of desired inaccessibility. But happily for me, she didn’t enter.

But the competition has encouraged people to think about privacy and raised the profile of the Law Commission consultation.    We commend this approach to our own Law Commission.

Meanwhile, Inforrm is considering whether we can assist in the Coalition Government’s review of libel law by offering a chocolate frog for, perhaps, the best legislative definition of the new defence of “honest opinion” …