General policy statement
This Bill is an omnibus Bill introduced in accordance with Standing Order 263(a). The amendments in the Bill deal with an interrelated topic that can be regarded as implementing a single broad policy.
This Bill is a cross-agency Bill that amends a range of legislation to enable digital interactions between individuals, businesses, and government agencies. The Bill forms part of ongoing information management and digital transformation work in the State sector.
The Bill contains proposals from the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA), the Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment (MBIE), and the Department of Conservation (DOC) as follows:
DIA is proposing amendments to allow certain services offered by Births, Deaths and Marriages to be completed without requiring statutory declarations, and to remove some restrictions on the use of photographs stored in the Identity Verification Service with the consent of the subject of the photograph; and
MBIE is proposing amendments that relate to requirements to “appear before” government agencies in certain proceedings, and that would allow certain types of notices to be provided electronically; and
DOC is proposing amendments relating to the online sale of game hunting licences and online voting for Fish and Game Council elections.
Proposals from Department of Internal Affairs
Removing requirement for statutory declarations for services offered by Births, Deaths and Marriages
Government agencies commonly require individuals to complete a statutory declaration where it is considered necessary to minimise the risk of false or incomplete information being provided. It is an offence under the Crimes Act 1961 to make a false statutory declaration, punishable by up to 3 years’ imprisonment.
A statutory declaration requirement may enhance the integrity of an interaction, but it also restricts the development of end-to-end digital services. A statutory declaration cannot be completed remotely because it must be signed in the presence of a person authorised to witness the statutory declaration. The Electronic Transactions Act 2002 does not enable electronic statutory declarations.
The Bill will allow individuals to apply electronically for services offered by Births, Deaths and Marriages that cannot currently be applied for electronically because of a requirement to complete a statutory declaration. The information that is currently verified by way of statutory declaration would be verified in alternative ways, in a manner specified in regulations or by the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages, to maintain the integrity of those processes.
Removing some restrictions on use of photographs stored in Electronic Identity Verification Service database
DIA provides the Government’s common login and online identity verification service (RealMe) in partnership with New Zealand Post. The photographs of verified identity holders collected during the application process are stored in the identity verification service (IVS) database. IVS photographs may be disclosed only in accordance with the Electronic Identity Verification Act 2012 (the EIV Act).
Under the EIV Act, the use of an IVS photograph is subject to several limitations, even if the individual consents to that photograph being used for another service or product. The limitations were originally put in place to help ensure that the use of IVS photographs is consistent with the principles of RealMe—a voluntary, consent-based service that permits the delivery of online services in a secure and privacy-protected way and that allows individuals to have control of their information.
Some organisations have expressed an interest in using IVS photographs to replace manual requirements for physical photographs. The Bill will enable an IVS photograph, defined in the Bill as an electronic identity photograph, to be disclosed to organisations with the individual’s consent in the following 3 situations:
where an individual’s photograph is displayed on a photographic identification card (for example, an 18+ card); and
where an individual’s photograph is displayed on a mobile app (for example, a future driver licence mobile app); and
where an individual’s photograph is displayed on a public register.
The Bill will also allow for future changes to the use of electronic identity photographs to be made through an Order in Council, rather than by amending the EIV Act.
Proposals from Ministry of Business, Innovation, and Employment
Individuals or businesses interacting with government agencies
Certain legislation requires individuals or businesses to “appear before” government agencies. In the absence of specific provisions, providing this type of interaction in a digital environment is not permitted by the Electronic Transactions Act 2002.
The Bill amends certain Acts to specify that where the government agency agrees, the individual or business concerned can appear remotely using electronic means (such as an audio or video link).
Government agencies interacting with individuals or businesses
A government agency will sometimes be required to send information and notices, etc, to individuals or businesses, either in response to a communication from an individual or business or on the agency’s own initiative.
Although the Electronic Transactions Act 2002 allows for email communication if the recipient consents, individuals or businesses may unreasonably refuse consent to the communication being in electronic form; for example, the person may refuse consent to avoid receiving a notice. At other times, it may be difficult for a government agency to find a physical or postal address for the intended recipient of a document or notice.
Certain Acts within the Commerce and Consumer portfolio contain provisions that do not expressly allow for the sending of general notices by email. The Bill amends legislative provisions requiring paper-based communication from government agencies to allow for email transmission, with the qualification that recipients have a defence if they can prove that they did not in fact receive an emailed notice.
Proposals from Department of Conservation
Enabling digital creation of game bird hunting licences
Under section 19A(1) of the Wildlife Act 1953, the Minister of Conservation may require that a game bird habitat stamp “be affixed to every licence to hunt or kill game”. The requirement to attach a stamp enables the New Zealand Game Bird Habitat Trust Board to collect revenue for its work. However, this requirement creates an impediment for the online sale of game bird hunting licences.
Further, in the future, there is expected to be a demand for electronic non-physical licences. These might be carried by recreational game hunters in the form of an image on a portable electronic device. Attaching a physical stamp to a non-physical licence is not possible. Allowing the incorporation of an image of a game bird habitat stamp within a game hunting non-physical licence will meet the anticipated future need.
The Bill amends section 19A of the Wildlife Act 1953 to allow the image of the current year’s game bird habitat stamp to be incorporated within a licence to hunt or kill game as an alternative to physically attaching an actual stamp to the licence. That change would allow the online sale of game bird hunting licences and would also support likely future demand for electronic non-physical licences.
Enabling online voting in Fish and Game Council elections
Every holder of an adult whole-season licence for sports fishing or game hunting is entitled to vote in Fish and Game Council elections (see section 26Y(1) of the Conservation Act 1987). Currently, section 26Z(1) of the Conservation Act 1987 stipulates that voting in Fish and Game Council elections must be by postal ballot. This prevents voting in Fish and Game Council elections via the Internet.
The Bill amends section 26Z(1) of the Conservation Act 1987 to allow for voting via the Internet, alongside postal voting, in Fish and Game Council elections.