'Extraordinary secrecy' in briefing to ICT Minister: Labour

Minister Amy Adams gives assurances that the ICT sector will be kept informed

New ICT Minister Amy Adams has been accused by the Labour Party of treating her portfolio “as if it contains state secrets.”

Labour ICT spokesperson Clare Curran issued a media release yesterday claiming “extraordinary secrecy surrounds decisions new ICT Minister Amy Adams faces in the next six months.” Curran was referring to a ministerial briefing paper posted on the Ministry of Economic Development website in which the content of several paragraphs has been withheld under sections of the Official Information Act.

Adams has told Computerworld that the information has been withheld for reasons that include commercial sensitivity and national security and she says she intends to keep the sector informed during her tenure as Minister.

Computerworld found 13 instances in the MED briefing paper where information was withheld. The gaps were found in paragraphs about the following issues: 700MHz spectrum, IP traffic routing, cyber security, emergency calling, accessible information about telecommunications, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Negotiations.

In addition, information on the page headed “Pending decisions or actions required in the next six months” has been withheld.

“What is so sensitive about these issues that much of the advice and information from the Ministry has to be withheld?” asks Curran. “How can the industry be informed about the direction and priority-setting of the new minister, and how can the public be reassured that vested interests with special access to the Government will not be favoured in its decision-making processes.” In response to questions asking why the information has been withheld, Adams emailed Computerworld the following statement yesterday evening: "There are a number of reasons why information has been withheld under the Official Information Act, including commercial sensitivity, and information relating to national security.”

"The sector can be assured that I will be keeping them updated with the Government's future plans, and seeking their views, where appropriate."

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