Protecting sensitive information in meetings 22 Feb 2019

How can you ensure that people have the freedom to share their concerns at meetings without being worried about the consequences of recording them in the minutes? This is an issue which plagues various groups.

The Privacy Act 1993 applies to any agency. This is defined as a person or body of persons that collects, uses or stores personal information. Examples of this include businesses, organisations, church groups or societies. If you are a private organisation (i.e. not a government body), the Official Information Act does not apply and you will have a lower threshold of disclosing information.

Information is considered to be personal when it is about an identifiable individual. It does not have to be private or sensitive to meet this threshold.

When personal information is stored by an agency, the person it relates to has the right to access this information. This may include:

A request to access this information may be refused if:

If you are an agency concerned with not disclosing sensitive information about someone, you should consider:

Ultimately your response will be determined by what the agency’s own policy and constitution allows and the current standard practice.

If you want to dive deeper into this topic, the Privacy Commissioner has also published this for clubs and societies.

If you would like assistance in re-writing your agency’s policy or constitution, please contact Steven Moe at or Aislinn Molloy at .