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Consider if sharing information is appropriate

Some information sharing may be legally permitted but still inadvisable or even unethical. Even if you can share information, consider whether you should share it.

Consider whether you should share information

Once you have identified a legal authority that permits (but does not require) you to share information — stop and consider whether you should share.

Usually, the answer will be yes. However, it’s worth asking the question. Some sharing may be legally permitted but still inadvisable or even unethical. For example:

  • it may break promises
  • damage trusted relationships
  • cause unjustified distress.

Help deciding whether to share

If you’re concerned that sharing may create these kinds of problems — check with your privacy, information sharing or legal teams to help you make the right judgment call.

The Data Protection and Use Policy (DPUP) principles can help you to determine whether you should be sharing personal information for your intended purposes.

Your agency may also require your proposed information sharing activity to be subject to review, assessment and approval by an ethics committee. This usually happens when you want to collect and share personal information to support research and evaluation activities.

Data Protection and Use Policy

The Data Protection and Use Policy (DPUP) describes what ‘doing the right thing’ looks like when collecting or using people’s data and information.

DPUP provides 5 principles and 4 guidelines. The guidelines describe good practice and ways you can apply the principles in practice. You can use the DPUP principles and guidelines to help you determine whether you ‘should’ share a person’s information.

 Data Protection and Use Policy (DPUP)

Ethics approval

In some cases, projects will require an ethics approval. This is particularly common for research projects.

Research that is conducted unethically, including the unethical collection and use of information, can have harmful consequences for those involved. An ethics approval demonstrates that the research project is unlikely to have negative effects on people.

When you receive a request for personal information for the purposes of research (internally or externally), you should confirm whether the researcher has approval from the relevant ethics committee.

There are several ethics committees in New Zealand and some agencies may have their own internal ethics committee and ethics approval processes.

Health and Disability Ethics Committees

The Health and Disability Ethics Committees (HDECs) are Ministerial Committees whose function is to secure the benefits of health and disability research by checking that it meets or exceeds established ethical standards.

About the HDECs — Health and Disability Ethics Committees

Institutional Ethics Committees

Institutional Ethics Committees are established and supported by the institution to which they belong, and they review research that is occurring within that institution. There are currently 13 Institutional Ethics Committees in New Zealand. These committees are approved by the Health Research Council. 

Health research saves lives — Health Research Council of New Zealand

Government agency ethics committees

The following government agencies have Research Ethics Committees, lead data ethics advisory groups or provide guidance relating to ethics:

Utility links and page information

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