Ready to explore the world, with the risk of losing your personal information?


Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 19.00.28Do you recognize the stress, waiting and hoping you will receive your visa in time before your next journey will start? In an attempt to make the visa application more efficient, New Zealand announced plans to implement a new technology platform called Immigration Online. The purpose of this platform is to make visa applications no longer dependent on physical offices, speeding up the entire application and greater sharing of information. However the latter is interesting to discuss. Shouldn’t this platform be focused on making sure the personal information is safe and only used for making the visa application efficient?

The Immigration Online platforms main design is to enable uploading scans of supporting documents and identify information such as passports online, photographs and driving licences (Marriagevisahelp, 2013). However, the platform also supports other parties to benefit. The design enables sharing of information between various government agencies and parties. For the latter, this may include employers wishing to check if an individual is eligible to work, law enforcement agencies responsible for preventing immigration fraud and general criminality and educational institutions. The design of the platform, even enables collecting and sharing biometric information. This information is specifically for the purpose of preventing immigration fraud and criminal activity.

The immigration department of New Zealand stress that all personal information will only be shared with an applicant’s knowledge and consent (Marriagevisahelp,2013). However, I believe that sharing personal information with other parties will deter people registering through the platform. Requesting sensitive information already decreases a user’s trust in the website and increase her information privacy concerns. Besides, extant privacy research has examined users’ willingness to disclose personal information and found that information privacy concerns and trust are key antecedents. Last, there is a potentially loss of privacy when a user discloses her personal information to the platform that may be misused to other parties or stolen (Li, 2014). The latter could easily happen when the platform is , like in the UK. There, they already spend more than £347million pounds in Home Offices Immigration platform. Still, the system was practically ‘unusable’ and delays and glitches meant it only ever worked for student visa. It was even incapable of linking with other Government systems (Drury, 2014).

For all these reasons, immigration departments should carefully reconsider if it should allow other parties to their platform, concerning the personal information of citizens. It certainly is a pro, making the visa applications more efficient. However, in my opinion, the personal information should not be used or misused through external parties, in order to increase user’s trust in the online application platform and to decrease her information privacy concerns.

What is your opinion, should the platform only be focused on making the visa applications more efficient, or should it also seek for opportunities to add value for their platform, by enabling other parties to join?

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Resources:
Drury, I. (2014, July 22). Home Office squandered £347m botched IT programme to process immigrants’ paperwork damning report reveals. Retrieved October 11, 2014, from Dailymail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2701160/Home-Office-squandered-347m-botched-IT-programme-process-immigrants-paperwork-damning-report-reveals.html

Marriagevisahelp. (2013, August 18). Immigration New Zealand (INZ) announces new technology platform for partner visa applications. Retrieved October 10, 2014, from marriagevisahelp: http://www.marriagevisahelp.com/immigration-new-zealand-inz-announces-new-technology-platform-for-partner-visa-applications/

Li, T., and Pavlou, P. 2014. What Drives Users’ Website Registration. Working Paper.

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