A person who requested personal information from a firm they were dealing with was surprised to be told that it would cost $19,000 to be sent this information held in files by the firm. 

The man complained to the Privacy Commissioner who investigated the matter and decided that the correct charge for provision of the information on a USB rather than in hard copy was $7.99 being the cost of purchasing the USB.

The firm refused to accept the final and binding decision of the Privacy Commissioner, so the complainant was free to take the case to the Human Rights Review Tribunal.  Proceedings were filed with the Tribunal, but the firm then delivered two boxes of files to the man which he copied and returned to the firm.

If you are presented with a bill for copying information under a Privacy Act request it pays to know what your rights are.  The Ministry of Justice has charging guidelines and, although these are not binding, they are a guide to reasonableness.  The Privacy Commissioner held that the $19,000 charge the firm wanted to make was not reasonable and the information could be provided in electronic format far cheaper.

Alan Knowsley