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National Security Exemption

If you use personal information to safeguard national security, there is a partial exemption provided for at section 22 of PIPA.


Section 22, National security exemption, states:

  1. (1) Except for the minimum requirements, Parts 2 and 3 do not apply to the use of  personal information required for the purpose of safeguarding national security.

  2. (2) In order to rely on subsection (1), an organisation shall first obtain a certificate (“an  exemption certificate”) signed by the Minister, in consultation with the Minister responsible  for national security, certifying that an exemption from all or any of the provisions of Parts 2  and 3, other than the minimum requirements, is required for that purpose.

  3. (3) The Minister shall not sign an exemption certificate unless satisfied that the exemption is  necessary and proportionate for the purpose of safeguarding national security.

  4. (4) An exemption certificate may identify the personal information to which it applies by means  of a general description and shall be expressed to have prospective effect.

  5. (5) An individual or organisation directly affected by the Minister’s decision whether or not to issue an exemption certificate may appeal to the Supreme Court against the Minister’s decision.

You may be able to apply this exemption if you process personal information under PIPA.


You must always ensure that your processing is lawful and that you use the personal information in a fair manner under section 8. There is no exemption from the requirement to use personal information lawfully.


You must always comply with your general responsibility and compliance obligations.

This is not a blanket exemption. You must be able to show that the exemption from specified privacy and data protection standards is required for the use of personal information required for the purposes of safeguarding national security. When deciding whether to use this exemption, we suggest you consider whether complying with PIPA would raise a real possibility of an adverse effect on national security. (Further guidance to come.)

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