Big brother is yarning to your boss

Written By: - Date published: 1:29 pm, November 22nd, 2009 - 12 comments
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The Sunday Star Times reports that police have been passing private information about staff members onto Air New Zealand via the official information act.

According to the story a flight attendant was picked up over the legal limit on the way to work, went home and then called in to say she wouldn’t be at work that day but this is where it gets interesting:

Just under two weeks after the flight attendant was caught, and before she had appeared in court or been convicted, police contacted Air NZ, providing her breath-test reading (but not her name) and offering to discuss the matter and reveal further details if required. Without the flight attendant’s knowledge, Air NZ then requested information about her under the Official Information Act (OIA) and police named her.

What the f*ck? Anyone who’s ever put in an OIA to the police will know how hard it is to get any information let alone names of people who are yet to go before the court. Especially well within the maximum legislated OIA response time.

But it seems there’s a different set of rules for big corporations.

In light of the new powers being granted government policing agencies this kind of special relationship between the state’s enforcement arm and capital is highly concerning.

12 comments on “Big brother is yarning to your boss”

  1. felix 1

    What’s that word again?

    You know, the one that means a collusion between big business and big government?

  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    That’s bad, very bad. Especially considering that she had a valid reason to call in sick (Being drunk is a valid reason to call in sick).

  3. prism 3

    Merely being stopped by the police could have had such an appalling effect on that person that she was rendered incapable of carrying out a day’s work! The fact that she was inebriated only added to the trauma. This is a bit of over-zealousness on the part of police, isn’t it. What then do people think about having a combined effort with Oz police on December 12? when all police are going to have a co-ordinated practice thrust at offenders.

    Personally I have been stopped and checked in one of those police dragnets though I was not over the limit or driving at all erratically and found it shocking. Particularly the fact that I couldn’t just breathe into the test meter and go on my way, but that I was under surveillance and had to speak my name into it which was then checked on their computer, which I considered was an invasion of my privacy. I drove away and then was anxious that I had moved before being told to, it all smacked of police-controlled state. The reason being that it is to control drunkenness and the consequent criminal behaviours. Drunkenness could be limited by hours being limited so that ordinary citizens don’t have to have sort of pass laws to contend with.

    I don’t like this random testing. I quite understand Alan Duff getting annoyed similarly as reported in the news some time ago.

  4. ghostwhowalksnz 4

    There is no obligation on anybody to provide the name of their employer to the Police , when arrested.
    If you have ID cards on you they may discover them during a search of your possesions, however never answer any questions apart from name and address , when you are a driver of a vehicle

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      The police shouldn’t have been contacting her employer.

    • rocky 4.2

      Name, Address, Date of Birth, and Occupation (but not place of employment) are generally considered the only things you are required to tell the police. Even those things aren’t always required, but they definitely are when you’re driving a vehicle.

      • corkscrew 4.2.1

        Under s.114 Land Transport Act it’s just name, dob, address and the owner of the vehicle if it is not you.
        The the LSA advises that in relation to circumstances not governed by special legislation like the LTA or the Sale of Liquor Act, police have no power to require any information from citizens (prior to arrest).

  5. infused 5

    Rule of thumb. Tell them as little as possible.

  6. Rex Widerstrom 6

    WTF indeed. When I tried getting my Police file for free under freedom of information provisions I was told that I couldn’t as it wasn’t “personal information” and I’d have to pay $500 or more.

    That was on the basis that an email from Officer A to Officer B, solely about me, wasn’t considered by the Police to be personal information of mine, but rather of the two officers!

    Aside from discouraging my curiosity by imposing a significant financial cost, I also suspected that a lot of what I wanted to see would in fact be found to compromise the right to privacy of the officers concerned, or some other spurious nonsense, and I’d be shelling out $500 just to read the cover page.

    Nice to see they’re volunteering the information for free now. Since I employ myself, perhaps I should have another go and explain that I want to see if I’m a suitable employee.

  7. This does have a creepy edge to it given the ‘Air NewZealander’ culture Mr Rob Fyfe has tried to create at the company. I wonder if the cops have a corporate list or provide this type of snooping for any employer?

    According to the media the woman had a residual reading from the night before rather than having consumed drink immediately prior to driving. Anyway it was an intrusive act and what we can expect more of as the authorities become able to monitor “everyone, everywhere’ as they desire in the 3 surveillance bills before parliament.

  8. Phil Lyth 8

    @Rex. The Privacy Commissioner privacy.org.nz is very clear on the definition:

    “Personal information”
    Information about a living human being.
    The information needs to identify that person, or be capable of identifying that person.

    Although NZ Police have never been big fans of Privacy or Official Information Acts.

    Captha: suspecting

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