Thursday, August 02, 2018

ACC's privacy invasion

Last year the Privacy Commissioner ruled that the police practise of asking companies to "voluntarily" turn over information under the Privacy Act was illegal and that they should seek production orders instead. Now, ACC has been caught making the same demands, but to government agencies and for far more sensitive data:

ACC wrongly sought and received nine years worth of personal travel details from Customs after discovering a claimant had gone to the Cannes film festival.

Doing so has uncovered a slew of other cases in which ACC has done the same, raising questions about how it harvests information about people it is meant to be supporting through compensation and rehabilitation.

"I felt violated," said the claimant, astonished to find ACC had turned its casual interest over the Cannes trip into receiving details about every trip abroad since his compensation-related injury.

The corporation has since apologised to the claimant for seeking his travel records and found it has acted wrongly getting other claimants details in about a quarter of the 38 times this year that it used a legal manoeuvre criticised by the Supreme Court and the Privacy Commissioner.

Pretty obviously this is grossly intrusive, and ACC should be paying compensation for its unvasion of privacy. But its not just them we should be looking at, but also Customs, who handed out highly sensitive personal information without good reason. To get an idea of how sensitive that information is, remember that the police and SIS need a specific statutory authorisation to access it, and have been spanked for behaving illegally when that authorisation was ignored or expired. But here Customs was handing it out willy-nilly, essentially so a (government) insurance company could perv through someone's life to try and find a way to not pay out on a claim. Which simply isn't a good enough reason. Like banking records, this information should not be handed out without a production order signed off by a judge. And if ACC can't convince a judge that their concerns of fraud are serious enough to warrant that, then tough.