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Thursday, November 23, 2006

NZ Opposition Leader has right to privacy in emails

In what appears to be a first in New Zealand (and maybe anywhere), Opposition Leader Don Brash won an interim injunction in the High Court last week that restrains anybody from putting emails taken from his computer on a website, broadcasting them, handing them to someone else, or revealing what is in them.

Given the global reach of the internet, its not hard to imagine how this order could be circumvented, at least outside NZ.

It's turning into a broader restraint on speech issue, with doubts cast, but now removed, concerning the impact of the court order on the publication later this week of a book about the NZ National Party.

The Australian Privacy Act (Section 98) provides for an injunction to restrain conduct that would constitute a breach of privacy principles.

What was unique in NZ was the scope of the order restraining "anybody", and no one was named in the order. The Australian Act would seem to only contemplate action restraining a named person.

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