Plunket on Privacy

 Dominion Post

Sean Plunket comments about privacy issues:

No-one likes having to make the walk of shame, be it a batsman stalking off the pitch after going out for a duck, a dishevelled reveller slinking back home after a night on the tiles or the head of ACC going in to see the privacy commissioner after his organisation mistakenly sent details of thousands of case files to the wrong recipient by email.

While the cricketer might get no worse than a bruised ego and the reveller some humorous derision, the senior public servant gets on telly and the headlines bay for blood and scream for reviews and inquiries.

Of course, many of those who have had their privacy breached will want compensation for hurt, humiliation or mental torment. Now if you’ve had to have an HIV test after sleeping with an Aids-diagnosed Casanova I can see some argument for expecting a payout, but if your case number and name were sent somewhere with thousands of others I reckon you should probably just harden up and forgive the faceless public servant who pushed the wrong button with no malicious intent.

Plunket is right on this issue. The media, via a planted story with Phil Kitchin, massively overreacted and they are the ones in fact who caused the distress and anguish from the alleged victims of the privacy breach. The other people that they should be looking at vilifying is Bronwyn Pullar and her little helper Michelle Boag, who at the first hurdle failed the test of a reasonable person and instead of handing back improperly released information tried to extort for financial gain.

Likewise the sooky behaviour shown by Ports strikers:

But building bridges and getting over things is a characteristic in short supply these days. Take the potentially redundant Ports of Auckland worker who is crying foul over details of the very generous leave provisions he received from the company during the terminal illness of his wife.

While manning a picket line that often features banners talking about the needs of families and belonging to a union that has made a YouTube video featuring strikers’ kin, this individual and CTU boss Helen Kelly are outraged that someone in the company chose to leak some balancing facts into what they see as an emotive dispute.

In real terms I wonder just what damage has been done to this man. His wife’s illness and death is clearly no secret and certainly his fellow workers and friends would have known that he needed, and was granted, time off to deal with a traumatic experience.

The fact that the company leak may have technically breached parts of the Privacy Act shouldn’t inevitably lead to a prosecution or compensation. Clearly having put their families at the forefront of their public relations push MUNZ can hardly be surprised if the port’s bosses and their spin doctors reply in kind.

In a wider context I wonder just how much privacy we can really expect in a world where more New Zealanders interact on Facebook than face to face.


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  • Mike Smith

    “tried to extort for financial gain.” Allegedly!

  • Peter Wilson

    Thats just a little silly from Plunket. POAL clearly were in a position of trust in holding the employees confidential information. It doesn’t matter what the information is, or whether the employee is hurt by the release of the information.

    How is that comparable to the employee talking about the company’s less than stella record as an employer?

    I wonder how Plunket would have reacted if National Radio had leaked information on how many negative comments he got during his time as a junior host on Morning Report.

    • Actually it was a pretty good record as an employer.

    • Callum

      I agree to a point, but this employee wilfully mislead the public about the conduct of his employer for his own gain. To me they have a right of reply when the facts clearly don’t fit his “employer bad, poor employee” sob story.

      • Peter Wilson

        Except that the company held confidential information about the employee, whereas the employee just gave his opinion – albeit a dopey one.

      • Bunswalla

        Get your hand off it, Peter. You have no proof “the company” leaked anything. Any of a number of people, acting independently, could have sent that information. They were no more acting on behalf of POAL than say, the scum unionists that pissed all over the BBQs and took the Sky card were.
        There’s the world of difference between individuals acting alone, and an action by the company.

      • Peter Wilson

        @06bd1c026893e9f75dd6690e6e2231ad:disqus  Bunswalla

        Are you saying that because it was just an employee that sent the info, the company is not liable? Interesting, I wonder when the company would be liable then.

        And if the company didn’t leak the info, then why do 99% of the comments on here claim they did, thereby libelling the company ;)

      • Bunswalla

        @7c294ff9f4121e360e2c97cc48f1004e:disqus I can only assume you’re being deliberately obtuse, because I don’t think you’re stupid enough to not know the answer to those questions.

        1. The company is liable when an authorised officer of the company either sends, or instructs an employee to send, the information. If an employee, acting on their own and without any directive from the company, takes company information and gives it so someone else, that is the person that’s liable (providing the company has taken all reasonable steps to keep the information private e.g. not left it lying around).

        2. I don’t care why 99% of the comments might say something; I didn’t write them. If you have proof the company sent the information, take it to the Privacy Commissioner. If you don’t, and you continue to claim the company has acted illegally, it might actually be you that is libelling the company. 


  • johnbronkhorst

    actually peter given the amount of extra leave (above his entitlement), lends itself to indicate that this was a very sensitive and compassionate employer which actually seems to have that social concience that they (the union) are always screaming about! That took it apon itself to help this ungrateful employee. Have seen this in other cases to a lesser extent, but the reation of the employer that I witnessed, was to go strictly by the book from then on, basically meaning that no other employee would ever be treated with this compassion again! So he may have screwed it up for everyone else!!

  • Dave

    @Whaleoil:disqus    it was an INCREDIBLE act by any employer.  Given their compassion, i would be proud to work for them.   The rest of NZ knows he is lier, and it just goes to prove to NZ, unions and their like, can not be trusted.   
    I don’t think most people care about the release, he started it by putting himself out there.   Perhaps it would have been better if POAL came out in direct response to each of his claims, since he was fabricating the truth.

    • Peter Wilson

      Hopefully we’re not naive enough to think good deeds can outweigh bad ones somehow. (Think Hamas and the education and welfare programs they have in place.) Perhaps they could afford to give him the leave because they’ve been underpaying and ripping off their workers all these years.

      • Are you seriously comparing POA to Hamas? You do know P is bad for you?

        And in what world do you live in where $91k is being underpaid and ripped off? Especially when you’re getting paid for more hours than you’re actually working. I’m paid considerable less than that (about $30k less) and I put in a hell of a lot more hours that 43 per week.
        Heck my father-in-law who is a Farm Manager for Landcorp and he also earns considerably less than that and in calving season he work 16 hours a day, 9 days on 3 days off.

        You are out of your mind if you think these idiots are hard done by unfortunates.

      • Bunswalla

        Yes, that makes total sense. We’ll pay them $91k to work 26 hours a week, and then because we feel so bad at ripping them off in this way, we’ll totally over-compensate and give him 20 weeks paid leave that we don’t have to, send a limo for him and his wife and get them backstage to meet Frankie Stevens.

        What a fucking moron.

      • Peter Wilson


        I guessing you have plenty of bugs in your programs, because you didn’t read my comment properly. What does the word “perhaps” mean? And I certainly didn’t compare POAL to Hamas.

        I’m simply pointing out that just because you support someone’s position, it doesn’t mean that everything that person or organisation does is 100% correct.

      • @7c294ff9f4121e360e2c97cc48f1004e:disqus Perhaps you could have made your “point” without bringing in the mental association with one of the more evil terrorist organisations on the planet.

        I read your comment just fine and I think it was a disgusting attempt at a cheap shot with typical unionist “oh I was just using them as an example.”

      • Peter Wilson


        You’re probably on the wrong blog if you get upset at the mere mention of Hamas freedom fighters, and then just in passing.

      • Salacious T Crumb

        PERHAPS the unions are just militant anti-employers who will just agitate and always present a contrary view because it (a) justifies their increasingly meaningless existance and (b) because that is what their outdated incoctrinated mantras tell them to do.

      • @7c294ff9f4121e360e2c97cc48f1004e:disqus First of all Hamas aren’t “Freedom Fighters”. They are terrorists whose stated goal is the obliteration of a country and ultimately a people group.

        Secondly what I find disgusting is not the mention of them “in passing” but the fact that you would try portray a company that has by all accounts paid their staff generously, gone above and beyond in their care for their staff and the families of their staff as somehow despite all the good things they do being kinda like an organisation that straps bombs on kids.

      • Peter Wilson

        Roger, are we are not allowed our own opinions on here? If I choose to make a passing reference to Hamas in a comment, that is my choice. Re-reading my original comment, it’s pretty clear I’m pointing out the potential danger of recognising an organisations good deeds, and then assuming they are therefore some kind of angel employer, albeit by taking an extreme example. If that offends, so what?

        For you to imply I’m likening POAL to the Hamas movement is, shall we say, a little disappointing and somewhat amusing, but that’s your choice.

        And a blog is surely here to express opinions, not to disparage and mount vitriolic attacks on those that contribute. A passing comment is fine, but to go on and on about it is “unusual”, and dare I say it, off topic.

  • jay cee

    he did say that he was grateful for the support he received only that he didn’t like it being made public,which was rather naive because  as mentioned above he was portraying POAL as the bad guy.

    • Jester

      And by portraying POAL as the bad guy his grandstanding could be argued that he was instrumental in attacking POALs plans to return a level off acceptable revenue to ACIL.

      Would that be a correct statement?