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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

NZ privacy pay out for police

According to this report "Police lose landmark job privacy case", New Zealand Police have had an award of $12,500 in damages made against them in the Human Rights Review Tribunal for a breach of privacy.

The Police had passed on information about the plaintiff to an employer in the course of a requested background check that he had been charged with indecent assault in 1992. However, he had been discharged by the trial judge and his name had been suppressed from the record. The Tribunal found a breach of the privacy principle requiring information released to be accurate, current, complete and relevant. The applicant had authorised the vetting, but did not think the failed court case would be mentioned.

It turns out that NZ Police keep a little known informal file of "notings", as opposed to criminal convictions, recorded on the National Intelligence Database. The Human Rights proceedings director said the case was the first of its kind regarding the Police database. Apparently individuals can ask for copies of their file notings but some information, for example that which identifies informants, could be withheld.

The decision in the case hasn't yet appeared in the published decisions of the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

Does anyone know about Australian Police "noting" practices? For reasons that have never been adequately explained NSW Police are not subject to NSW privacy legislation except in respect of their administrative and educative functions.

Thanks for and for the leads

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