Who cares about personal privacy? Not Facebook

Written By: - Date published: 1:30 pm, March 28th, 2018 - 42 comments
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John Edwards, the Privacy Commissioner has ruled that Facebook is subject to our Privacy Act. Isn’t it a shame National Party politicians don’t seem to be.

With all the gnashing of teeth over Facebook we have our own example of absolute disdain for personal information. Privacy is actually a tenet of basic human freedom… but for 9 years it was both eroded and scoffed at by Crown ministers

Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.

– Edward Snowden

Three of the main perpetrators remain in parliament today and 2 sit in the hierarchy of the National Party. Two are trained lawyers. Without doubt the less experienced are learning from these 3 and those who went before them, Key, Joyce and English. To assume that new faces have different values or news ways of getting business done is flawed.





” a bit of a lesson for what happens if you go out there and put your story.”




As an aside given Collins has misunderstood both conflict of interest and a privacy ruling (that or she was lying and knew just what she was doing) , the media, amongst others need to stop giving her views any credence (looking at you national voters).


Former Attorney General

This man was Minister Responsible for the Government Communications Security Bureau and the Minister in Charge of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, New Zealand’s two main intelligence agencies. It would be nice to think he had a good handle on privacy and personal information… but sadly

As Mickey ably covered yesterday, Finlayson was an abject failure in the Dotcom case. A failure in terms of honouring and upholding the law of privacy and the importance of personal information. Not a failure if your goal is to ensure a man is extradicted according to the wishes of an ally. Remember Warner Bros got a multi million dollar payout under the illusion of the Hobbitt leaving NZ? I bet they wanted Megaupload to stop and never start again. It couldn’t have helped their business model.

National Party


Spam emailed people who signed their petition who had NOT authorised their personal information being used for other purposes


Jason Ede

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Cheryl Gwyn, found ex-adviser Jason Ede and deputy chief of staff Phil de Joux were involved in passing intelligence information to Slater, who later used it to write an attack on then-Labour leader Phil Goff.

The Security Intelligence Service (SIS) has apologised to Goff over the release of briefing notes to Slater.

This is a clear and worrying pattern of behaviour.

Even if deemed legal it does not satisfy the Cabinet Manual which governs the personal and professional conduct of Cabinet Ministers.


2.53 To protect the integrity of the decision-making process of executive government and to maintain public trust in the Executive, Ministers and Parliamentary Under-Secretaries must conduct themselves in a manner appropriate to their office. Accordingly, the guidance in paragraphs 2.55 – 2.106:

  1. explains the standards of personal conduct expected of Ministers;
  2. helps Ministers to identify personal interests that might be seen to influence their decision-making; and
  3. sets out options for managing conflicts of interest where necessary.

2.54 The guidance on conduct, public duty, and personal interests applies to all Ministers (inside and outside Cabinet) and Parliamentary Under-Secretaries. References to Ministers in this guidance include Parliamentary Under-Secretaries.

Conduct of Ministers

2.55 A Minister of the Crown, while holding a ministerial warrant, acts in a number of different capacities:

  1. in a ministerial capacity, making decisions and determining and promoting policy within particular portfolios;
  2. in a political capacity as a member of Parliament, representing a constituency or particular community of interest; and
  3. in a personal capacity.

2.56 In all these roles and at all times, Ministers are expected to act lawfully and to behave in a way that upholds, and is seen to uphold, the highest ethical standards. This includes exercising a professional approach and good judgement in their interactions with the public and officials, and in all their communications, personal and professional. Ultimately, Ministers are accountable to the Prime Minister for their behaviour.

What has been authorised without our knowledge, given we know that senior Politicians in that Government had very similar ideas about personal information. Namely theirs is sacred (Bennett sought an injunction and Sabin sought name suppression) but ours is for their political use as they see fit.

Andrew Little is looking to make some law changes but until these and those politicians who follow are held personally liable for their mishandling of personal information nothing will change. According to Kirk Hope

a $1m fine was “out of whack”. The reputational cost a company would incur if it misused customers’ information was enough of an incentive to do the right thing, he said.

“That will far outweigh any fine that a privacy commissioner can impose on a business. What are you trying to solve with a penalty?”

The National Party and its politicians are serial offenders and there is no sign they are stopping. maybe they need a penalty?


42 comments on “Who cares about personal privacy? Not Facebook”

  1. weka 1

    Nice one Tracey.

    I’m guessing FB are saying fuck off to the Privacy Commissioner because he has no power over them? Which is how National have been playing it. The people who then wanted a big data system whereby the govt could freely share personal information between departments and with NGOs and private companies. Unbelievable.

    • Tracey 1.1

      Facebook NZ customers are covered by NZ law. Who knows what Zuckerberg is saying.

      • Brian Tregaskin 1.1.1

        Fact Facebook does not have to comply with NZ Law, they don’t operate from NZ and their servers are not here.They will consider requests for information on a case by case basis and are within their rights to say no to governments, law enforcement if the request is unreasonable. No Government can own the internet.

        • dev

          Well the Privacy Commissioner has said they do have to comply with New Zealand law and nobody with any credibility is disagreeing with them. It’s not about government owning the internet, it’s about regulating companies that operate in New Zealand, like Facebook.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          In what sense is Facebook “the internet”?

          Google certainly aren’t above the law.

        • OncewasTim

          That’s probably contestable too. I imagine some lawyers will be giving themselves orgasms (perhaps you are one of them).
          We could get into IP ARGUMENTS, where the info was ‘inputted/originated’ from, shifting cross-border server residency et al.
          Perhaps there’s a tuneity for you to earn yoursef a bundle (going forward).
          There’d be learnings from that for all of us possum (going forward).
          We could shift ALL NZ govt big data offshore to a server in the Caymans and claim no responsibility for its integrity.
          Until that is, something relating to State security and the welfare of the political class might possibly cause embarrassment.
          Òoo, geee. We already have such a possibility

  2. joe90 2

    John Edwards, the Privacy Commissioner has ruled that Facebook is subject to our Privacy Act.

    And as always, read the fucking agreement you’re signing.

    Facebook responded with a blog post laying out the applicable user-agreement terms and denying that Facebook collects call or SMS data surreptitiously. “Contact uploading is optional. People are expressly asked if they want to give permission to upload their contacts from their phone—it’s explained right there in the apps when you get started,” the company said in a statement to the Guardian. “People can delete previously uploaded information at any time and can find all the information available to them in their account and activity log from our Download Your Information tool.”


    • weka 2.1

      nobody reads EULAs etc anymore. I’m surprised that people are surprised that FB is doing this kind of data sharing. But let’s not pretend that the industry is being transparent. They’re not. I’ve given permission for twitter apps to access stuff and I don’t really understand what I’ve done, because no-one explains it properly.

    • Tracey 2.2

      And where is National’s small print? I would suggest that the Cabinet Manual is the small print that allows us to trust their actions…

    • Draco T Bastard 2.3


      No agreement can contract out of the law.

    • tracey 2.4

      Uploading contacts is not the same as collecting call data

      • joe90 2.4.1

        Seems agreeing to share contacts gave them default permission to access your call data.

        If you granted permission to read contacts during Facebook’s installation on Android a few versions ago—specifically before Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean)—that permission also granted Facebook access to call and message logs by default. The permission structure was changed in the Android API in version 16


        • tracey

          Are logs not just who you called and when? Does it include call content?

          • joe90

            Does it include call content?

            Probably not. But like an index, it tells them where to look so it could be used to obtain content, if content was retained by service providers.

            • tracey

              Thanks Joe

              That is much more complicated than the Privacy Act. I wonder why Nats Cabinet Ministers had such deep comprehension issues.

          • OncewasTim

            Metadata. Indicative but conveniently not substantive.
            But then if I could retrive the shit held in places like ‘Archive Security’; resurect the means an technology by which it was archived, and restore it in the context of where and wjen it wss created….there’d be a shitload more than a Pulla ( or even BOQ Fonlayson) that’d be worried.
            Question is…. how far back you’d wnt to go.
            Would it be just to a Love/skiffington era,WOSRSE STILL his successor and dial-a-bride (bcos “Labour did it too”)… would it be the Stevie Choice era….
            Probably just the best solution might be for the ego and over-ambirous driven to pull their heafs in and hit the reset button.

    • dev 2.5

      Principal three of the act says, roughly, that the agency collecting the information shall take reasonable steps to ensure that the individual concerned is aware of the intended recipients of the information, and the purpose for which the information is being collected.

      Are you on Facebook and do you have any idea where your data has gone? Do you think Facebook will ever tell you who has it? Given the vast number of groups, with a range of ethical practices, that buy data off them, do you think Facebook could ever, hand on heart, tell you who has your data? Let alone them taking steps to inform you in the proactive way the principals envision? Of course not.

      It’s fine for you to say ‘read the agreement’, but we all know that these agreements are designed to be virtually impenetrable. Otherwise they would contain a plain english version that explains the real nitty-gritty of the proposed actions.

      • joe90 2.5.1

        Given the vast number of groups, with a range of ethical practices, that buy data off them, do you think Facebook could ever, hand on heart, tell you who has your data?

        Any evidence to contradict FB’s assertion that they never sell data?.

        We never sell this data, and this feature does not collect the content of your text messages or calls


        It’s fine for you to say ‘read the agreement’, but we all know that these agreements are designed to be virtually impenetrable.


        In their desperation to get free shit folk are prepared to sign an agreement they don’t understand.

        • dev

          Well maybe not sell but ‘supply’ data to. And there’s plenty of evidence to suggest that Facebook do not give a rats about what happens to your data once it is passed on to another agency. It has probably ended up in all sorts of places.

          I think (and most people would agree I think) that companies that operate like this have an obligation to provide this information in a form that is easy for the user to understand; and to positively ensure that the user does understand what they are agreeing to, particularly given the breadth of information people are agreeing to supply. There are all different types of people in society with differing levels of comprehension. For most people I’d say many of the Facebook agreements are gibberish which are written (purposefully) obfuscate the substance of the agreement. I think people rightly expect that if they are forming an agreement with someone and if there are any really serious implications in the agreement, their attention will be brought to it; not buried deep in a screed of writing that may as well be Latin.

          Do you read the text, word for word, of every online agreement you have ever entered into? Plus taken the time to consider any implications, looked up relevant cases so you can see how those situations might play out before hitting ‘i agree’? Of course not, it’s an absurd argument.

    • Paul Campbell 2.6

      I haven’t signed anything – but my wife uses FB on an android phone – FB apparently has records of all my calls and all my texts ….

      Oh and that guy who signed up to FB using my email address (FB don;t check that emails are valid, and they do send a LOT of spam), they have my email address too, and probably think I’m him and have tied his activities to my text and phone calls, my wife probably gets ads for divorce lawyers ….

      So I haven’t signed a EULA, and the NZ privacy laws apply to me, I’d contact FB and do something, but apparently they don’t have modern things like email addresses of phone numbers, you can only contact them from inside their reality bubble …. after signing their EULA

  3. savenz 3

    Our government has been shocking. Who can trust them anymore?

    Finnlayson is one of the worst because he basically was trying to pervert justice in the dot com case and also set a new scary precedent for human rights to extradite people as a sort of back slapping exercise to please the US and do a whole lot of scary breaches with public resources like police and illegal surveillance to make it try and stick when they didn’t do any due diligence in the first place about how legal their own actions were. Shows shocking arrogance and worse.

    Next is Jason Ede who has suffered zero consequences to his actions and seems to have been given a cushy job for them.

    Then all the lying about operation Burham, when civilians have actually been murdered. (Whether intentional or not, they are all still dead).

    Gosh all those breaches by National ministers and apparently the only newsworthy thing is that Curren and Hirschfeld has a meeting at a cafe.

    Not sure if it’s because they are women and not lawyers and nothing seems to have actually happened, why it seems as significant?????

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      Finnlayson is one of the worst because he basically was trying to pervert justice in the dot com case

      I still say that there is enough prima facie evidence to say that the entire National Party Caucus conspired to break the law on that one and that a Royal Investigation be mounted into it.

      • tc 3.1.1

        Amen to that.

        SCF also please as that needs sunlight. Folk are furious that SCF investors did more than OK when pretty much all the others failed spectacularly. It smells still even now.

  4. savenz 4

    As for Facebook. Either delete the account, or don’t put personal information on there, or put loads of errors so that the information starts to become worthless.

    • xanthe 4.1

      now thats a really good idea savenz

      poison the data with errors !
      Anyone who thinks deleting the facebook account will alter anything past (or prevent new data being linked to extant data!) is naive
      I wonder if a mass movement of data poisoning could be mounted and tools created to assist.


      • McFlock 4.1.1

        Wouldn’t really work.

        All that would happen is that the people with non-conventional data patterns would simply be put into their own cluster and targeted with different ads.

        A bit like Lprent saying a while back he was considering blocking tor browser nodes because a lot of trolls or what have you use them. Blocking the nodes was as good as blocking the trolls themselves.

        Data mining isn’t about drawing direct conclusions from specific comments or posts so much as it’s about using overall patterns of use to tailor inputs and elicit specific responses. Incoherent responses are just another data pattern.

  5. Ad 5

    +100 Tracy

    Unfortunately I think there is about as much chance of holding any of those characters to account, as there is a chance that the owner of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg will be fronting up to the British Parliamentry representatives of the people he has damaged:


    Zuckerberg has flatly refused to appear before British Parliamentarians.

    His refusal means there will be a growing call for the full global regulation of social media as a whole.

    • Tracey 5.1

      Agreed Ad.

      The voters ultimately decide and 44% are cool with it. Until their info is taken… I also wonder how many nat voters have streaming boxes in their homes…

      • adam 5.1.1

        44% of voters. But not 44% of the population, just a group who are loud, arrogant and self absorbed.

        The fact is a growing number of kiwis don’t vote, and one of the many reasons they don’t vote because of the actions of the politicians and their hacks you mentioned in this post Tracey.

        Until these people are held to account, then expect voting to continue to fall.

      • Incognito 5.1.2

        We’ve been here before, many times. Many issues, especially really complex ones, are non-issues for many people until you specifically draw their attention to it, e.g. by asking a specific (and leading?) question. And just because people answer in a certain way, e.g. in polls or surveys, doesn’t mean that the subject matter has been actively on their minds till they were asked, far from it.

        GCSB Bill vs snapper quota

  6. mary_a 6

    Cabinet Manual …”3/2.56 in a personal capacity … ”

    Perverted serial pony tail fondlers exempt obviously!

    • tracey 6.1

      One of its biggest failings is the PM is sole arbiter of the Cabinet Manual.

      Clearly it will be hard to get Parliamentarians to support holding these Ministers accountable let alone making the Cabinet Manual binding by, say, a committee of MPs. Which MP would order Collins to resign or otherwise sanction?

      There but for the grace of God etc…

      • One Anonymous Bloke 6.1.1

        The Serious Fraud Office should oversee the Cabinet Manual.

        • tracey

          No politician would vote for it. And therein lies the problem

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            The Prime Minister and cabinet oversee the Cabinet Manual, not Parliament. Nothing to stop the executive devolving some of those duties.

          • Draco T Bastard

            Yes, politicians, especially the party of personal responsibility, never will vote for them being held accountable for their actions. It’s how Key got away with sexual assault on a waitress and didn’t lose his job and go to jail as should have happened.

  7. Whispering Kate 7

    Ironic really that Bennett was only too happy to expose clients and their WINZ business but was very quick to slap down and shut down any exposure of her life pre politics – and effectively at that. Never a word has been uttered since then – wonderful what a bit of power can give a person – privilege and privacy. One day we may know about her antics but I am not holding my breath.

    • tc 7.1

      You’ll not hear about any of that from the msm unless it’s the subject of some formal or perhaps legal activity that can’t be ignored.

      Can you imagine the screams of indignation and calls for sacking if any current govt minister did something similar to just one of Bennett’s many indiscretions.

      Rules and laws are applied and enforced selectively by national, its their MO which their msm cheerleaders dutifully follow.

  8. RedLogix 8

    There is a lot more to this; but this link gives a quick introduction into what is going on here, and why this is such a big story;

    At the core of the Cambridge Analytica’s work is a personality assessment called the “Big Five.” Researchers had users take a personality test then download an app, which scraped data from their Facebook profiles and those of their friends. Correlating the quiz results with the profile data, the firm were able to build software which could personality profile millions of Facebook users based on their “likes.” It’s the big data equivalent of having everyone in the country take a personality test.


    • tracey 8.1

      Apparently Clare Curran and Carol Hirschfield is a resign Minister story…

      Only a few months in.

      In total how many “resign Minister” stories ran?

      Collins didnt resign over her causing death threats
      Bennett didnt resign over abuse of power
      Smith didnt resign over abuse of power
      Finlayson hasnt resigned over abuse of power

      Under Bennett multiple privacy breaches out of WINZ…

  9. silvertuatara 9

    In response to allegations reported in the stuff article below, is it now time to shed some additional light into the spread of Palantir’s activities within NZ which seem to be shrouded in a lot of secrecy still?;


    And given Peter Thiel’s and Facebook’s alleged links to Cambridge Analytica, is it time that ministers of the NZ Government review seriously the past approval of NZ citizenship to Mr Thiel, and the associated approval of land purchases within our country?

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