Lyndon Hood - private citizen, Lower Hutt

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

I discover - via National Radio's breakfast show though apparently the Dom Post broke it - that as part of a week-long trial posties in Petone and Eastbourne have been talking into microphones as they go. Recording notes about the paint on the houses. Which the Post Office then sells to Resene.

In the interview the questions of exactly what the information was, what it was for and whether it was collated weren't directly put. At the same time, NZ Post's representative seemed to agree that it was about whether particular addresses needed painting.

I suggest that anyone who gets a pamphlet saying their house could do with a drop of paint - especially if it happens to have their name on it - makes a complaint to the privacy commissioner.

The Post lady said that it was all good because the state of your house is publicly available information - anyone could get it if they wanted by walking down the road. Much as, if you went out on the street I would be allowed to photograph you. Or your twins.

Maybe. But that doesn't mean I want what is a basically a government agency, whatever they might call themselves, collecting information irrelevant to their main brief without my knowledge or consent, connecting it with my address and then selling it on to a third party.

I don't want to be getting Regaine brochures just 'cos the Postie saw me bending down to collect the mail, either.

She also likened selling information collected in a deal with a private company to telling the council about dangerous dog.

The latter is noting the relevant enforcement agency of a breach of a bylaw. The former is voluntarily being paid to snoop. Just because one's right, doesn't mean the other is.

It barks like a violation of the Privacy Act. And it sure bites like a violation of the Privacy Act.

I'm not certain it's illegal, but it's not on. At the very least it is a breach of trust. Speaking as an NZ Post customer, they could 'add value' to their services by promising to stay the hell out of my life.