The Human Rights Review Tribunal has found that Netsafe interfered with the privacy of three women by failing to provide information held by it when requested by the three claimants.

Netsafe was ordered to provide the information within 20 working days.

The Tribunal ordered Netsafe to pay $5,000 each to two of the women for loss of benefits and damages for humiliation and injury to feelings of $30,000 to each of the three women.

The three women applied to Netsafe for the release of information it held about them as a result of a complaint to it by a man who had been in relationships with two of the women.  Netsafe refused to supply the information on the grounds that its release would prejudice the maintenance of the law and was an unwarranted disclosure of the affairs of another person (the complainant) who had issued proceedings in Court against the three women after complaining to Netsafe.

The Tribunal held that Netsafe could not show that the release of the information held about each woman would prejudice the maintenance of the law.  Netsafe’s role under the Harmful Digital Communications Act is not undermined by Netsafe releasing information with the consent of the complainant.  The complainant had already issued proceedings against the three other women, so they knew who he was and what he was alleging.

In relation to the unwarranted interference with the privacy of the complainant the Tribunal held that the women’s interest in receiving the information held by Netsafe outweighed the complainant’s interests in keeping the complaint confidential.  He had issued proceedings based on his complaints and so could not expect to keep the information confidential.

The Tribunal concluded that although Netsafe withheld the information out of a genuine concern for its statutory functions, that concern was misguided.

It awarded $30,000 to each of the three women for hurt and humiliation due to the distress suffered as a result of Netsafe’s refusal to release the information to them.

The Tribunal ordered $5,000 be paid to each of two of the women because the failure to release the information to them meant they could not put that before the Court to show the Judge that there was no case against them as there was no complaint against them to Netsafe and therefore the Court had no jurisdiction to make any order.

Netsafe as an agency deals with privacy issues a lot yet still got is obligations wrong and is $100,000 worse off as a result.


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