Privacy Frequently Asked Questions

Is access to the information on FarmsOnLine restricted by law?

Access to information on FarmsOnLine is restricted by law. Section 142C of the Biosecurity Act 1993 (the Act) distinguishes between information sources from the public domain and information obtained from other sources. You can read more detail on the Purpose of use.

What will FarmsOnLine be used for?

FarmsOnLine is a one stop shop for accurate up-to-date contact details for rural properties in New Zealand. It gives MPI instant access to information so it can respond quickly to a biosecurity alert or natural disaster.

The information will assist with surveillance programmes and the development of rural policy. It will be used to support biosecurity programmes run by organisations like the Animal Health Board and Regional Councils. The information will also support research relating to the rural sector, animal, plant and human health and food safety.

What private information is being held on FarmsOnLine?

Much of the information on FarmsOnLine is publicly available such as your property location, address, title and land-use. The name of the owner, manager or occupier is not publicly available but is a critical part of FarmsOnLine.

Will the use of the personal information be restricted?

The personal information can only be used for biosecurity purposes unless you give specific permission or new legislation is put in place. It will not be available for individuals other than to registered FarmsOnLine users who will be able to update or correct their own formation if they choose.

The biosecurity uses are those sanctioned under the Biosecurity Act 1993. The relevant section of the Act says:

  • To facilitate the provision of assurances and certificates in relation to exports of organisms and their products; and
  • As a basis for the proper administration of the Act, including the institution of precautionary actions, emergency and exigency arrangements, and pest management strategies; and
  • To monitor the effect of pest management strategies; and
  • Otherwise to enable any of New Zealand’s international reporting obligations and trading requirements to be met.
What say would I have about new legislation being put in place to make my information more accessible?

Any new legislation to alter the use of personal information would involve a full parliamentary process. This includes public consultation and a select hearing.

In what instances might I be asked to give permission for my personal information to be used?

MPI has worked closely with industry bodies like the Animal Health Board to establish partnership agreements so personal information held by them can be shared with FarmsOnLine. In the case of the Animal Health Board, about 80,000 AHB members were written to and advised that their information would be shared with FarmsOnLine unless they chose to opt out. Nearly 99 per cent of AHB members chose to be part of FarmsOnLine.

What other information about my business and farm operation will be on FarmsOnLine?

FarmsOnLine does not hold any other information about your business or farm operation. There is no information on FarmsOnLine about disease status, individual stock or crop information or financial, commercial or land values.

How can I be sure that my personal information won't be used for purposes other than those stated?

Protecting personal information is fundamental to the success of FarmsOnLine. MPI has gone to considerable lengths to ensure there are clear rules for the use of the information. As a result, you can have confidence that your personal information will be well safe-guarded.

What other organisations did MPI consult when developing the privacy rules?

MPI has consulted with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and the Office of the Ombudsmen in developing the approach to protecting personal and commercially sensitive information. FarmsOnLine will comply with the Information Privacy Principles in the Privacy Act and will manage and protect personal information in accordance with the FarmsOnLine Privacy Impact Assessment report. You can read more details on FarmsOnLine.

Who will make sure that FarmsOnLine continues to comply with the privacy rules?

MPI has established a FarmsOnLine Data Advisory Committee. It is made up of industry representatives and senior MPI staff. This committee will be responsible for the following activities:

  • Monitoring the use of FarmsOnLine personal and commercially-sensitive information;
  • Approving any Data Sharing Agreement with a partner application;
  • Consulting with the MPI Privacy Officer over the possible development and management of a complaints/disputes process;
  • Commissioning an annual Privacy Audit to review all use of FarmsOnLine personal and commercially-sensitive information;
  • Passing on any recommendations from the annual audit to the Director General of MPI.
Do I have a choice about whether my personal information is included in FarmsOnLine?

Registration for FarmsOnLine is not compulsory. You have the right to request that your personal information be removed from FarmsOnLine at any time. This is done by opting out. You can do so by contacting us by phone, 0800 4 FOLNZ (or 0800 4 36569), or emailing us, or clicking on "Request a Change" once you have identified a farm.