National in Breach of Privacy Law | The Jackal

29 Jun 2011

National in Breach of Privacy Law

John Key recently sent out a personally addressed letter entitled Budget 2011 – Back to surplus sooner, better services for families.

It was sent to people who are not National Party members or registered with National in any way and was mainly targeted at pensioners.

There are two ways National might have attained the addresses that they sent their unsolicited letter to: 1. The Work and Income database. 2. The electoral roll.

The law states that individuals from whom information is collected should be made aware of the purpose for which their personal information is going to be used.

There is no information given when you provide your personal details for the electoral roll or to WINZ that informs you that an individual political party will send you unsolicited mail in which they advertise their policies and a political website.

Being that National has incorrectly obtained the address details of the recipients of the unsolicited letter, and may have attained the private details from the electoral roll; it gives more credence to the Privacy Commissioner's 1997 recommendations to the Minister of Justice:

7.5 Each elector's full residential address should no longer appear on the published roll but instead solely be held for official purposes and for release to authorised recipients. Consideration should be given to: (a) omitting residential address and displaying only the elector's suburb or town; or (b) displaying the elector's address but omitting the house/apartment/flat identifier.
7.8 The habitation index should no longer be made available for sale to those who do not require it for purpose related to an election or poll or for some other public interest specifically identified and authorised by law.
The Privacy Commissioner also stated at the time that:
The electoral roll will, under either option, cease to be of any great use for direct marketing as a mailing list will not be able to be compiled by using the roll.
Being that John Key's letter targeted a particular sector of the community, it’s unlikely that the National Party utilized the electoral roll to attain the addresses.

It's far more likely that they have attained the addresses from a WINZ database. This is a complete breach of the Privacy Act 1993, which the crown is bound by law to uphold. The Privacy Act states:
Information privacy principles
Principle 1 - Personal information shall not be collected by any agency unless

(a) the information is collected for a lawful purpose connected with a function or activity of the agency; and

(b) the collection of the information is necessary for that purpose.
There's no question that the collection of personal information for the purposes of the electoral system or WINZ administration has been breached by Parliamentary Services for the National Party's electioneering purposes.

As there's no provision given under the Parliamentary Service Act 2000 that overrides the Privacy Act 1993; the National Government is in breach of a fundamental law that is designed to protect peoples privacy.
Not only is it a breach of the Privacy Act 1993 in the first instance, it's in breach of other laws concerning electioneering. However these are minor breaches of law compared to the total breach of privacy that the National Party has just conducted.

I've laid a formal complaint with the Privacy Commissioner concerning this serious breach of our rights, and will keep you informed.