Privacy Commissioner

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards is no friend of… anyone really

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards has recommended to Government, as part of its plans to reform the Privacy Act, that the penalty for a serious breach of personal information could be a fine of up to $1 million.

If adopted, the Privacy Commissioner would be able to apply to the High Court for a civil penalty of up to $100,000 for individuals and up to $1 million for public and private sector organisations, for serious breaches (as is the case in Australia).

The recommendation is one of six in the Privacy Commissioner’s latest report on the current operability of the Privacy Act, tabled in Parliament this week. This report coincides with the Government’s stated intention to reform the Act.

In the update report, Mr Edwards notes privacy law reform has been under consideration since 1998, including the wide-ranging Law Commission review from 2008-2011. These reviews and the government response have formed the basis for the proposed modernisation of the Privacy Act, as led by the Ministry of Justice.

But Mr Edwards says a lot has changed since the Law Commission’s review. “Important developments since 2011 that impact on the operation and adequacy of the privacy legislation include developments in data science and information technology, and new business models built on data-driven enterprise.”

He says there are apparent gaps and weaknesses in the Privacy Act’s enforcement framework that need to be addressed if the reforms proposed are to introduce an effective and modernised form of privacy regulation.

He is proposing six recommendations. These are: Read more »

I complain, therefore I am

Facebook Privacy Settings[5]

No wonder the Tiwai Point smelter is still going – we have a large proportion of the population in constant need of aluminium head wear.

They know when you’re out and when you go to bed.

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner yesterday fired a warning shot at power companies over the huge amounts of private details that smart meters collect every day.

In a memo, the office said such meters, which are now installed in more than a million New Zealand homes and businesses, could take electricity readings detailed enough to determine whether customers were using high-energy appliances, such as ovens or heaters, and when they had left the house. Read more »

Has the Herald broken the law?

They may well have broken the law with their little data mining project exposing that MPs follow the rules and some are richer than others.

The Privacy Act says:

Privacy Act 1993 Clause 59 Public Register Privacy Principles …

Principle 2 Use of information from public registers

Personal information obtained from a public register shall not be re-sorted, or combined with personal information obtained from any other public register, for the purpose of making available for valuable consideration personal information assembled in a form in which that personal information could not be obtained directly from the register.  Read more »

John Edwards writes on Fairfax’s Privacy whinge

Fairfax has rushed off to the Privacy Commissioner. Think for a minute how absolutely hilarious it is for a media organisation that plies its trade rummaging in the privacy of other people to now rush off to the Privacy Commissioner because someone allegedly abused their privacy. My sides are hurting from laughing at the irony of it all.

However what are their and Peter Dunne’s legal chances with all of this?

John Edwards suggests not much chance at all.

Without any power to compel the production of information, David Henry needed to rely on the cooperation of other parties.  In order to cooperate in the absence of any legal obligation to disclose, Ministers, Parliamentary Service and others needed some authority to hand over information to the inquiry.

If an agency that is subject to the Privacy Act voluntarily hands over personal information, they need to be satisfied that doing so is consistent with the purposes of collection, is authorised by the individual concerned, or is necessary for the maintenance of the law (or one or two other exceptions).

The Parliamentary Service held copies of emails, and of security card records of both Peter Dunne and Andrea Vance. All of that is personal information. But the Privacy Act does not apply to the Parliamentary Service (except in a limited sense, relating  personal information about employees). Therefore, however you feel about what they should have done, giving all the information to the inquiry, even emails, could not be a breach of the Privacy Act, so no remedy for Dunne/Vance. There might be  a Privileges Committee inquiry, changes to procedures, or even to Standing Orders, but in respect of the Parliamentary Service, no one gets to claim a cent.   Read more »

Roughan plays catch up

John Roughan has written about the Pullar/Boag manufactured ACC privacy scandal and comes to the same conclusion I did months ago…in fact I think he must have read my post and just cut/pasted it.

By the time they presented the Privacy Commissioner with their report, the country was sick of the subject and hardly anybody read it.

It ran to 102 pages. You had to read to page 99 to discover exactly what sort of confidential client information had escaped.

But finally, in the fifth appendix, there it was: a sample of the fabled spreadsheet of “personal” data. It consisted of four tables listing claimants’ names (removed for the report), their claim numbers, review numbers, branch, lodgement dates, issue codes, decision dates and the like.

That was it. That is all there was.

There was nothing that could be of the slightest use or interest to anyone outside ACC. No personal details alongside the names, no injury information, nothing.

That is what all the fuss had been about.

The media and Pullar/Boag have a lot to answer for.

The thing that disappointed me was that so many people had known all along that the “massive privacy breach” amounted to nothing more than this. Investigative reporters, the Privacy Commissioner, her Independent Review Team, all would have discovered the contents of the spreadsheet very quickly.

None blew the whistle. No reports that I saw looked critically at the facts at the heart of a story that kept on growing and giving. The Privacy Commissioner did not say something to restore a sense of proportion. The review team, no doubt well paid, went about its investigation as though there was a serious problem.

An accident had happened. An ACC rehabilitation officer had a monthly sheet of case reviews on his screen when he decided to respond to an email. He dragged the data aside, clicked a wrong button and unwittingly attached it to the return email.

Computers are a minefield for privacy. Accidents will happen, despite all the procedures the commissioner’s expert team has laid down. It happened to Social Welfare kiosks a short time later.

If the data is as indecipherable as that ACC released, it won’t matter in the slightest. It was the trivial story of the year.

That is was…but it cost Nick Smith his job because of a silly cow who flips it up for pollies in order to get what she wants…who was aided and abetted by a bully. The problem was for them is they picked on the wrong minister…and she set up crushing the leaky board on the way through. Having compromised himself he is now having to get his mates to do backflips in order to rehabilitate himself.

Someone should ask Pullar how much she has received…for all her standover I’ll bet good money that she got nothing and still has got nothing.

Mallard believes him, I don’t

NZ Herald

Trevor Mallard is running a rather wonky jihad, probably driven by his early onset dementia, against anyone and everyone. Last night he was stating he believed John Judge over Judith Collins.

I am not sure he’d want to be doing that, but since he is relying on John Judges whispers to provide his defence against Crusher’s defamation action:

Former Accident Compensation Corporation chairman John Judge replaced his home computer just days after an inquiry into the leak of a sensitive email was announced, an analysis of parliamentary answers shows.

The date the computer was replaced has become a key point of dispute between Mr Judge and ACC Minister Judith Collins.

Ms Collins has accused him of hampering an investigation by the Privacy Commissioner into how an email which identified Bronwyn Pullar as the woman at the centre of a huge ACC privacy breach was leaked to the Herald on Sunday.

This week, the minister told the Herald that Mr Judge replaced his home computer after the announcement in late March that the investigation would be held and it might involve computer forensic analysis.

In response, Mr Judge said Ms Collins’ comments were “pathetic” and motivated by recent unfavourable media coverage of ACC.

He said the minister was aware that he replaced his home computer before the Privacy Commissioner’s inquiry was announced.

“Everything was transferred from my old computer to the new one anyway. It’s not like anything disappeared.”

He said Ms Collins “knew the truth” and was “just trying to blacken people”.

Mr Judge told the Herald he replaced his home computer on April 1.

Yesterday, Ms Collins reasserted her claim that Mr Judge replaced the machine after the inquiry was announced.

On March 28, she confirmed the investigation in answers to parliamentary questions. In these, she said the investigation “might well include some forensic investigation of computer records”.

Yesterday, the minister said that the transcript of her answers “speaks for itself”.

Hmmm…why would you all of a sudden replace your computer? Very coincidental.

John Judge is talking to anyone who will listen, he is seriously unhinged that National wouldn’t privatise ACC…and now seriously unhinged that he got the arse card from ACC.

Not going to happen

NZ Herald

Audrey Young picks up on the whisperings of Nick Smiths mates and talks about his possible return to cabinet just two weeks after he resigned.

John Key’s reshuffle yesterday promoted Simon Bridges and Chris Tremain and leaves the way open for Nick Smith to come back if the Prime Minister deems he has been punished enough.

Frankly anyone who is touting that hypothesis is dreaming.

David Farrar lists a soft sell reasoning about why Nick Smith probably won’t return to the ministry.

He has however left off two other possible reasons:

  • John Key is unforgiving of people who lie to his face. He axed Richard Worth when he caught him out and it was one of the reasons Nick Smith had to go. This reason alone would prevent Nick Smith returning.
  • Who knows what other documents or letters of information is contained in the ACC files relating to Bronwyn Pullar from Nick Smith. The Privacy Commissioner and the Police are currently investigating and I can well imagine that numerous media agencies have dropped rather complete OIA bombs on the Minister’s office for correspondence between Boag, Pullar, and Smith, not to mention Collins. If even a single new letter emerges then refer to my point above regarding the lying.

Coddington on Pullar Scandal

Herald on Sunday

Deborah Coddington surmises that Michelle Boag was trying to set up Judith Collins. She picked the wrong target for her standover tactics.

Finally someone (Coddington) says it how it is, Bronwyn Pullar is not a whistle blower.

Another puzzle: Boag has stated that Collins told her if she (Boag) wrote to her, she would have to pass the communication directly on to ACC.

Boag is a very smart operator and I just can’t understand her charging ahead and sending such a self-incriminating email to Collins if she knew it was going to be sent on to the chairman, and the chief executive, of ACC. Unless Collins was being set up.

But there were brain fades all around in this sorry saga.

Pullar certainly wasn’t thinking straight. She’s not a whistleblower, as some insist on calling her. A whistleblower would not have held on to other people’s private information from August to December, then allegedly threatened ACC senior managers with it.

A whistleblower would have gone straight to the Privacy Commissioner.

But this is all about Pullar. When her name became public and her “friend” Smith had to resign, instead of shutting up and going to ground, she kept on digging, blathering away in public. She couldn’t even apologise to Smith in private, but hogged the spotlight, then bagged ACC again.

Collins set to sue Labour MPs and Media outlet

NZ Herald

Judith Collins isn’t going to take Mallard’s lies lying down. Hse has announced that she is looking at suing him plus another MP as well as a media outlet. I think she should also look at suing Eddie at The Standard for the defamatory post they put up yesterday to sync with Mallard’s, Robertson’s and Little’s attack again me, Simon Lusk and Judith Collins in the house.

ACC Minister Judith Collins is planning legal action against two Labour Party politicians and a media outlet for alleged defamation.

It follows confirmation the Privacy Commission will investigate the email Ms Collins received from former National Party president Michelle Boag which helped end her colleague Nick Smith’s ministerial career.

Ms Collins told Radio Live this morning she was to see a lawyer this morning, regarding legal action for allegedly defamatory comments made outside the House by two Labour Party politicians, and also one media outlet.

She would not name who the MPs or the media outlet are.

Ms Collins denied the move was a ploy to close down debate on the issue, rather she takes her reputation “seriously” and would not allow herself to be defamed.

Confirmation that Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff will investigate the email’s trail from Ms Boag to an eventual report in the Herald on Sundaycame as Labour claimed Ms Collins, National Party operative Simon Lusk and right-wing blogger Cameron Slater all played a part in the leak.

The Standard’s post is defamatory against me, and also Simon Lusk. I am considering my options. Trevor Mallard has a history of lying and making shit up, this time I feel he is going to regret it. He should just leave parliament. There will be no mercy from me.

Dumber than a sack of hammers

The left wing are in a frenzy thinking they are going to get a scalp. They are miffed that they couldn’t claim Nick Smith’s after he shot his own feet off. But they are baying for the blood of Judith Collins.

After yesterday’s Labour caucus they came out resolved to smear Collins and immediately started working over the gallery. They even got their lap-bloggers to try and attack me about it all.

There seems to be a great deal of focus on who sent what to whom. However in the house yesterday Judith Collins said in the house that she didn’t leak the email, nor did anyone in her office, and further she said that the Chair of ACC and the CEO have likewise said the same.

Predictably Michelle Boag has something to say and she put on her angry face to do it:

Former National Party president Michelle Boag has angrily dismissed suggestions she leaked the email she sent to ACC Minister Judith Collins about her friend Bronwyn Pullar’s controversial meeting with ACC managers.

She goes on:

She said the email was sent to Ms Collins in the expectation it would not be sent to anyone else.

“When you can’t send a communication to a Government minister without fearing that the privacy of that communication is going to be breached, that’s very, very dangerous.”

Actually Michelle Boag should know better. She should know that any communication with a ministers office in their ministerial capacity is searchable under the OIA. The email as reported by David Fisher was sent tot he ACC minister about an AC claimant, regarding matters pertaining the operations of ACC. Michelle Boag actually used the words “for the sake of your ministry, your board, your CEO“. That absolutely falls under the category of the OIA as she was discussing ACC matters with a minister. Furthermore Michelle Boag appears to have been economical with the truth…again. She says it was sent to Judith Collins only. Judith Collins says otherwise:

Ms Collins said Ms Boag’s email was sent to herself and one staff member.

“I did not send it to anyone else. My staff member sent it to the chief executive of ACC and the chairman of the board, as I requested her to. It was not sent anywhere else.”

Michelle Boag has been around government for long enough to know that such correspondence, to a minister and to a, presumably, ministerial services staff member is searchable under the OIA. There cannot remotely be a privacy issue here as the email is clearly subject to the OIA.

Irrespective of that someone leaked the email to David Fisher before it could be discovered under the OIA. Irrespective of that too is the fact that as David Fisher reported there was the suggestion, confirmed by Boag in the email to the Minister that a deal had been sought to return the confidential data in return for cash and both Bronwyn Pullar and Michelle Boag were upset that the deal wasn’t being adhered to and as a result things were going to be messy for “for the sake of your ministry, your board, your CEO“. Those few words contain a clear threat…a threat that was delivered upon, but which actually managed to cost their friend his job.

What we have here is a apparent attempt to blackmail a department, and when that didn’t work an attempt to threaten a minister into action, like they did with Nick Smith. Sensibly Judith Collins sent the email straight to the ACC.

Laughably though Michelle Boag says she doesn’t wish to lay a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner.

Ms Boag said she was not responsible for the leak. However, she would not lay a complaint.

“I’m a busy girl. I’ve been in Wellington working all day for a living. I don’t have time to dwell all day on these things.

“The ball now is in ACC’s court. I will see what they will do,” Ms Boag said.

I’ll just be she doesn’t want to go down that rabbit hole. SHe is more worried about getting caught up in a blackmail charge or worse following a Police investigation. Little wonder she is working day and night in Wellington to shore up her shrinking business. I’m not sure i’d want someone not very well versed on the OIA to be representing my interests in government relations. I certainly wouldn’t want anyone who has the reverse Midas touch as bad as Michelle Boag to ever come near any business or organisation I had anything to do with.