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Welcome to our fortnightly digest, Privacy News.

Privacy Commissioner’s first advisory opinion

The New Zealand Fire Service (NZFS) posed us a question about whether it could publish the addresses of fire incidents on its website in order to reduce the administrative burden from insurers seeking this information. The NZFS asked whether addresses of fire incidents are personal information and, if so, if disclosing this information would be a breach of the Privacy Act.

In a first advisory opinion, the Privacy Commissioner said addresses of fire incidents often constitute personal information, and disclosing them in this way would be a breach of the Privacy Act. He suggested an alternative way of sharing this information with insurance companies without compromising privacy.

Advisory opinions give agencies certainty about how the Privacy Commissioner would respond to an issue. Read the opinion here.

Privacy Commissioner named photography agency

The Privacy Commissioner named a photography business, Expression Sessions Ltd, as the result of a complaint from a mother who found photos of her children used in advertising. The woman had taken Expression Sessions up on an offer for a free photo shoot for children with the option for parents to later purchase the prints. When she decided not to purchase the photos, she was told they would be deleted. Some time later, she discovered images of her children used in advertising material, including a large print poster.

The Commissioner formed the view Expression Sessions had breached principles 3, 4, 9 and 10 of the Privacy Act. Read about our investigation here.

Privacy Commissioner named drilling company

The Privacy Commissioner found that TD Drilling 2014 Ltd, also trading as TD Drilling Ltd, breached principles 5 and 6 of the Privacy Act in withholding and then losing employee information in the course of an employment dispute. The dispute involved an employee who had become concerned that his colleagues had been taking drugs at work, notified his boss and asked for the matter to be treated in confidence.

Read about our investigation here.

Did you hear back from us?

If you lodge a complaint or enquiry online on our website, you will receive a response from us within three working days. But if you haven’t, please contact us on 0800 803 909 (Monday – Friday, 10am – 3pm) or email us at

We have identified a system issue which arose late last year (now resolved) which might mean your complaint or enquiry was not able to be received by us. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience.

Our latest blog posts:

Asian Privacy Scholars Network 5th International Conference
Asian Privacy Scholars Network 5th International Conference
Author Joy Liddicoat    Date published 11 January 2017

Privacy scholars from the Asia Pacific region recently gathered to share research, ask difficult questions, push the boundaries of privacy concepts and grapple with the challenges of new technology. Several themes emerged including cultural concepts of privacy, the pervasive collection of personal information, challenges to rights of access to personal information and the impact of the new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Read More
Privacy Research Symposium 2016
Privacy Research Symposium 2016
Author Sam Grover    Date published 13 January 2017

In 2015, we distributed our $70,000 Privacy Good Research Fund to four different projects, all of which focused on finding new evidence about an aspect of privacy. Last month, that fund came to fruition and we had our Privacy Research Symposium, a day where the recipients of the fund presented their findings.

Read More
Our first advisory opinion
Our first advisory opinion
Author Sam Grover    Date published 20 January 2017

Administering the Privacy Act is as much about telling people what they can do with personal information, as what they can’t. We’ve been coming up with new ways to help agencies understand what the Privacy Act does, and doesn’t do, in order to reduce uncertainty, and promote good practice.

Read More
Having access to security camera footage
Having access to security camera footage
Author Charles Mabbett    Date published 24 January 2017

In an echo of a case we investigated last year, a Welsh court has given a British man who was injured in a Welsh police cell access to security camera footage of the incident.

Read More


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Office of the Privacy Commissioner
PO Box 10 094, Wellington 6143
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