Privacy you can bank on

by John Edwards, The National Business Review  |  published on December 2, 2012


You know what?

The Privacy Act doesn’t protect you as much as you thought it did.

For a whole bunch of reasons.

First, it is subservient to other laws.

Second, people who collect your personal information get to write their own rules, third, in some cases it offers less protection of personal information than what was the case before it came along.

Banking is one of those areas. Here’s an interesting article reporting on the practice of banks routinely handing over personal information to the police without a warrant [it also involves Kim Dotcom and the allegation that “Kiwibank appeared to use a police request as a sign of impending trouble for the tycoon, rejecting a loan application.”]

How do they do that?

Well, the part of the Privacy Act that says agencies aren’t allowed to disclose personal information says “unless they believe on reasonable grounds that the disclosure is necessary for the maintenance of the law”.

But do not fear! All this means is that when you complain to the Privacy Commissioner about a bank disclosing your personal information to the Police, the bank can put its hand on its heart (*choke*) and say “I believed on reasonable grounds that there was an exception to information privacy principle 11, and therefore we are not liable”, and the Privacy Commissioner might go away.

The bank’s problem however, does not.

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