Transparency and Choice checklist

The Transparency and Choice guideline explains the importance of ensuring that people understand what's happening with their information, the rights they have to access it and request corrections to it, and the importance of offering people choices whenever we are able to.

This 1-page checklist helps you check that each of the key ideas in the guideline have been thought through. You can adapt it to make sense in the context of your work, and your organisation:

Transparency and choice checklist

Across the social sector it’s common to provide service users with written explanations about data and information collection and use. This checklist will help make sure those explanations are helpful and can be used as a conversation prompt. 

Aim for no surprises

The most important test is whether service users would be surprised about what is collected and recorded about them, or who is using it, and what they are using it for.

Consider context

Think about the context of your organisation, the work you do, the kind of data and information you are collecting or using, and the circumstances of the service users.

There might be things service users need to be told about in relation to their data or information under another law or policy. For example, the Education Act may have specific things to think about, you may need to explain a few extra service users’ rights under the Health and Disability Code, or why their information may be shared under the Oranga Tamariki Act.

Completing the checklist

Use this checklist in any part of your process or work that makes sense, and is helpful for you. It might look like a lot – but don’t worry! Some of this might already be covered off in your organisation. Or a few extra sentences and small format changes would make it clearer in documents, or just slightly changing what a service user is told might make things much more transparent.  Language is key – avoid jargon and vague or confusing statements.

As you complete the checklist:

  • Ticked Yes? Great! If you haven’t already - test the wording with other people. What you may think is clear and easy to understand might not be clear and easy for someone else to understand.
  • Ticked N/A? Some of these steps may not apply. For example, there might never be a situation where information is shared with other agencies. But make sure you have covered off what must be explained (either under the Privacy Act, or other legal requirements for your organisation)
  • Ticked No? Is it ‘no’ because the explanation is there but isn’t clear? Or because an explanation is missing? A ‘no’ means some more thinking needs to happen. Get some advice or consult with others, go back to the Purpose Statement or plan or reason for the collection.

Does the form explain collection:

  • Show what data / information will be collected in a way that does/could, identify them (is “personal”)?
  • Show what data or information will be collected in a way that won’t, or can’t, identify them (is “non-personal” or “de-identified”)? 
  • Show or explain what information must be provided and what is voluntary?
  • Outline what laws allow, or require, the collection to happen.

Does the form explain use:

  • What data or information will be used in a way that will, or could, identify them?
  • What data or information will be used in a way that won’t or can’t identify them?
  • What kinds of people/roles will see what data or information? If, in this context, people may worry about this, additionally say who won’t, and can’t, see this information.
  • What the data or information is used for, and how this use will benefit them or people in similar situations to them (the purpose and outcomes).
  • If there is more than one intended use or purpose are these all explained? 
  • What the data or information won’t be used for.
  • When information might be shared with other organisations:
    • Who you would share it with.
    • What you would share and if it will, or could, identify them.
    • What the other agency/professional would do with it, and why they need it. 
  • Outline what laws allow, or require, the use or sharing to happen.
  • If this information will be linked / matched with any other data or information about them.
  • Outline how their information will be kept secure. 

Does the form explain access and corrections:

  • That people have a right to access data or information that can identify them.
  • Give them the chance to say what they would like to access and how (e.g would they like to have copies of their notes).
  • That they can ask for corrections to their information and how to do so.  
  • What will happen if the information won’t be changed in response to their request. 

Does the form explain choices:

  • Clearly shows the different choices so people can easily indicate yes/no separately rather than putting everything together and asking for one “I agree”. 
  • What happens if they don’t agree to providing the data or information. 
  • If they don’t have a choice, why that is so.