Face of the Day

Investigative journalist Nicky Hager has filed a human rights claim against Westpac over its decision to give police his account details, his lawyer says.

The Privacy Commissioner this week found the bank breached Hager’s privacy when it gave police access to 10 months of his accounts as part of an investigation without asking for a warrant.

But the commission’s rulings are not binding, and Hager’s lawyer, Felix Geiringer, on Thursday said he had filed a case with the Human Rights Review Tribunal to get an enforceable order.

“He has asked Westpac to acknowledge that it breached his rights. Despite the Privacy Commissioner’s ruling, it has not been prepared to do that,” Mr Geiringer said.

A spokeswoman for Westpac confirmed that was the case and said the bank had no further comment to add.

Mr Geiringer said Hager would not only ask for an order ensuring Westpac couldn’t give its customers bank transaction data to the police without a warrant, but would also ask for an order requiring the bank to notify anyone whose privacy may have been breached.

The hypocrisy here is off the scale.  I’m not saying that Westpac were a little too eager to cooperate with the police.  Perhaps insisting on some official paperwork would have protected everyone in the process.  I would certainly be upset with Westpac too.

But Nicky Hager infamously received stolen property – data files that he knew were obtained illegally and he knew did not belong to him.  He then turned them into a book and charged money for it claiming “public interest”.

On that basis, Westpac should claim “public interest” at an absolute minimum.

Mr Hager showed absolutely zero concern for the privacy of Cam Slater and many of the people that communicated with him.

 


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