fishing expeditions

Hide: Your government is spying on you

The Privacy Commissioner reports the big three that ask for information are the Inland Revenue, the Ministry of Social Development and police. These three departments issued 11,333 information requests to just 10 companies – two telcos, seven financial services companies and one utility.

The Privacy Commissioner found ” virtually 100 per cent” compliance. The only non-compliance was when the individuals concerned weren’t customers – so the companies didn’t have the information.

The police need a warrant for the bulk of the requests they make. Thanks to powers given by Parliament, the IRD and Social Development don’t. We’re not talking information about gun-toting, murdering terrorists but everyday taxpayers and beneficiaries.

In 2012, the IRD served Trade Me with a notice demanding the details of nearly one million customers. To Trade Me’s great credit it resisted the demand and after much to-ing and fro-ing provided information on 44,368 customers. That’s still an astonishing number.

It is worrying there were more than 11,000 requests on just 10 sampled companies over three months – but consider this: the IRD’s request for personal data on one million customers would count as just one request.

Our personal information is being hoovered up by Government agencies on a massive scale. And there is no obligation on the companies or Government departments to tell us. Read more »