The Privacy Commissioner has upheld a complaint of breach of privacy by an agency after it refused to release a video recording which it said was taken by a staff member personally on a personal device.

The video had been taken of people protesting outside the agency’s offices and the person requesting the video was one of the protesters.

The agency said it did not hold the information, as the video had been taken by a staff member on a personal device.  The protester was not happy with that, so complained to the Privacy Commissioner.

The Privacy Commissioner found that the staff member was not acting in a personal capacity, but was acting on behalf of the agency and with the agency’s knowledge in making the video.  The video was therefore held by the agency and should have been released.

The complainant then took the case to the Human Rights Review Tribunal and during that process it was discovered that the video had actually been taken on a recording device owned by the agency and not on a personal device, as the agency had claimed.  The agency settled the case with a pay-out of $15,000 compensation for breach of privacy and apologised for misleading the complainant with its original answer.

It pays to know what your rights are when seeking to recover information under the Privacy Act and to consult a professional experienced in the area.

Alan Knowsley
Privacy Lawyer