First Master of Information Governance graduate exposes privacy problems

Supermarkets are dropping the ball when it comes to shoppers’ personal data, says Tiffany Sze.

Master of Information Governance graduate Tiffany Sze
Master of Information Governance graduate Tiffany Sze

Data, dubbed the new oil, is a huge commodity in the digital age, and autumn graduate Tiffany Sze has mined the information she needs to understand how to best protect it.

Before Tiffany embarked on the country’s first and only qualification of its kind, the Master of Information Governance, she had given little thought to how people’s daily activities expose their personal information.

In fact, the business undergrad was new to the field.

Despite this, her interest in data privacy and information governance burgeoned. Now, Tiffany, one of the first Master of Information Governance graduates, has the opportunity to contribute original research to the field.

The scholar is working with privacy expert Associate Professor Gehan Gunasekara to prepare her final course paper: ‘A privacy trojan horse? Consumer loyalty programmes in the grocery sector and data privacy’ for publication.

Tiffany’s study unearthed several issues regarding loyalty programmes, including unclear terms and conditions, ambiguities in privacy policies and inadequate mechanisms for obtaining informed consent from shoppers, particularly in terms of third-party data sharing and international data transfers.

She says supermarkets in Aotearoa and Australia need clear consent mechanisms for data collection and sharing.

“They need to make clear what data will be collected, how it will be used, and with whom it may be shared.”

The course made me hyper-aware of the need to protect personal information in our increasingly digital existence.

Master of Information Governance graduate Tiffany Sze

Tiffany says the online and research-based nature of the Master of Information Governance suited her learning style.

“The programme covered the complexities of information governance and data privacy laws and emphasised the real-world implications of these laws on data privacy. It made me hyper-aware of the need to protect personal information in our increasingly digital existence,” says the graduate, who was born in New Zealand but spent much of her early years in Hong Kong, where her family is based.

“I returned to New Zealand at 14, and since then, I’ve been navigating life here while maintaining strong ties with my family. Although distant geographically, my family’s incredibly supportive.”

Associate Professor Gehan Gunasekara and masters graduate Tiffany Sze.
Associate Professor Gehan Gunasekara and masters graduate Tiffany Sze.

Tiffany says her Master of Information Governance lecturers and classmates, a diverse group of professionals and newcomers to the field, were also a great support to her during her studies.

“The lecturers, especially my supervisor Gehan, have been wonderful. And although our interactions were online, my classmates played a crucial role in my learning process. Their willingness to share knowledge and help me out was remarkable. The collaborative environment enriched the entire experience!”

Looking ahead, Tiffany has big plans.

First, she’s aiming to get her research on supermarket loyalty programmes published. Then, she hopes to secure a role where she can influence data privacy policies and practices within an organisation, promoting responsible data handling. In the long term, she hopes to become a leader in the field, guiding policy development or heading an information governance department.

The masters graduate is also considering pursuing a doctoral degree to deepen her knowledge and contribute to academic and practical advancements in information governance.

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Sophie Boladeras I Media adviser
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