The change is to allow widespread data sharing between public and private sectors for the first time in the name of tackling fraud.
The serious crime bill, which also proposes so-called "super Asbos" to target criminal masterminds, will allow public and private sector anti-fraud agencies to access personal financial information, including pay, tax, pension and benefit records held across the public sector.
The legislation follows a decision by the cabinet last summer to overturn the basic data protection principle that personal information provided to a government department for one purpose should in general not be used for another. Instead ministers have reversed the principle so "information will normally be shared in the public sector, provided it is in the public interest".
As we, in New Zealand, have the same underlying principles enshrined in our data protection provisions that the UK have overturned, we may see some opportunist shifting of the rules here. It is difficult to argue against any measure labeled as anti-crime, anti-terror or anti-rape but much intellectual effort went into the framing of the Privacy Act and associated regulations and practices, serious consideration of the issues and public debate should take place before any similar action takes place in NZ.