EU white-lists New Zealand privacy laws

On 19 December 2012 the European Commission announced that it has formally decided that New Zealand's Privacy Act offers an adequate standard of data protection for the purposes of European law.  New Zealand Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff said that the decision "establishes New Zealand, in the eyes of our trading partners, as a safe place to process personal data."  Commissioner Shroff also said the decision "should be helpful to New Zealand businesses that trade with Europe or hope to do so as it substantially simplifies compliance with data protection requirements".  Trade in goods between New Zealand and the EU amounts to €6.7bn annually whilst trade in services amounts to €3.1bn annually.

TV3 breaches electrician's privacy in the "Target" house

An episode of Target, the TV3 consumer affairs programme, featured hidden camera footage of employees from three different electrical companies.  One of the electricians shown in the episode, CP, made a formal complaint to TV3 alleging that the hidden camera footage breached his privacy because it was used without his permission and his face was not pixellated.  The unresolved complaint was heard by the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA).

Privacy is protected by Standard 3 (privacy) of the BSA's Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice, which provides that Broadcasters should maintain standards consistent with the privacy of the individual.

The BSA's associated privacy principles state that "it is inconsistent with an individual’s privacy to allow the public disclosure of material obtained by intentionally interfering, in the nature of prying, with that individual’s interest in solitude or seclusion, where the intrusion would be highly offensive to an objective reasonable person."

The BSA held that the electrician had an 'interest in seclusion' while working in the Target house and that the use of hidden cameras in the house was 'prying'.  The BSA decided this prying was highly offensive given the electrician was 'picked out, isolated and unexpectedly exposed' without giving his consent or even being approached for his consent.

Disclosing a matter of public interest is a defence to a privacy complaint before the BSA.  The BSA decided that here the electrician did not engage in illegal behaviour and that overall he and his colleagues were considered to have performed the relevant work well.  The BSA held that on balance the public interest in the electrician's actions did not outweigh the breach of his privacy, and the public interest would have been better served if his face had been pixellated in the programme as broadcast.