Monday, April 18, 2011

Policeman Abuses Government Database to Breach Privacy of His Wife's Ex-Husband

A police officer breached privacy laws by looking up his wife's ex-husband on the National Intelligence Application (NIA). The officer's wife used the leaked information in her custody fight with her ex-husband.

An investigation by the Privacy Commissioner concluded the police failed to take reasonable steps to ensure the security of the personal information. The officer was found to have breached two principles of the New Zealand Privacy Act by looking at the ex-husband's file 17 times over four years.
"It is my view that you have suffered harm of this type based on the fact that Senior Constable ... has used his privileged position within police to access your NIA records primary to promote his interests over yours." - Mike Flahive, Assistant Privacy Commissioner
No Investigation for 2 Years
The ex-husband said he was "totally disgusted" it took police 2 years to investigate his complaint. In 2007, he reported a suspected leak to the Waitemata police in 2007 when his private details were included in an affidavit his ex-wife filed with the Family Court. However, no action was taken until 2009 when he complained to the Privacy Commissioner and the Independent Police Conduct Authority.
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The police have not revealed what disciplinary action was taken even though unauthorized checks can be grounds for dismissal under the police code of conduct. The case has been referred to the director of the Human Rights Proceedings, who may take a case before the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

More Data Privacy Breaches by Police in New Zealand
In 2009, it was revealed that random monthly audits caught 33 offices making unauthorized checks over the previous 2 years on the National Intelligence Application (NIA). Nine officers later resigned. The audits were introduced after officers were caught looking at the personal file of a complainant in a high-profile police sex case.

The NIA database holds information on people's criminal convictions, whether they are wanted by police or are a surveillance target, as well as, details on criminals' associates and their addresses.

Sources:
(a) Policeman's leak of data breached privacy law - The Herald, April 18, 2011
(b) Officer leaked police data to wife - The Herald, February 4, 2011
(c) New Zealand Privacy Act 1993 No 28 (as at 01 April 2011), Public Act"
(d) New Zealand National Intelligence Application (NIA)


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