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Your rights

Anyone can complain to the Privacy Commissioner if they think they have been subjected to an "interference with privacy" by a person or an organisation.

However, in the first case, you are the best person who is able to protect your privacy and you can do this by:

  • knowing your rights
  • being aware of the risks and knowing how to avoid them
  • having a basic understanding of the Privacy Act and its privacy principles; and
  • by asking us questions.

The Privacy Commissioner encourages people to try to resolve matters themselves before making a complaint to his Office. An early and informal resolution can save time, stress and money.

If you don't think you know enough about privacy yet to resolve things yourself, try AskUs or send us your enquiry using this form.  If you still need help then phone us on 0800 803 909 (Monday to Friday, 10.00 am - 3.00 pm) and we'll try to give you the information to help you.   

Complaints - what do do

If you have been unable to resolve a privacy dispute, the Privacy Commissioner can investigate complaints concerning breaches of the privacy principles in the Privacy Act. He can also consider matters that may breach other aspects of the Privacy Act.

Before you make a formal complaint to us:

    • Contact the agency and let it know what the problem is. Agencies can often sort out problems quickly and satisfactorily without the need for us to get involved.
    • All agencies are supposed to have a privacy officer (someone who is familiar with the Act, and with the agency's information handling practices). So if you're unsure who could help you, this is a good person to ask for.
    • Use our Ask Us tool to find out about your privacy issue.
    • For further information on the law, see our detailed section on the Privacy Act (and related legislation), search our case notes, or browse through our News and Publications.
    • Call our enquiries line (phone 0800 803 909 Monday-Friday 10.00 am - 3.00 pm) or send us an enquiry using this form. Our enquiries staff can help if you need to know more about the complaints process, the Act, or the work of the Office generally.
    • Here's some further information outlining our complaints process.

If you've decided you want to lodge a complaint:


Further information

See our top 10 tips for privacy for some helpful hints and our seasonal tips for keeping your personal details safe over the holiday period.

Read our general privacy brochure "Your personal information - know your privacy rights".

For further information on how technology can affect your privacy, see Keeping safe online. It's also worth visiting Netsafe.

Read the privacy principles to see what your rights are.

View our Health Privacy Toolkit including our brochure for health consumers and some translations of this brochure.