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Win for sanity in Hager vs Westpac

Written By: - Date published: 1:29 pm, February 21st, 2017 - 29 comments
Categories: business, Dirty Politics, human rights, law - Tags: , , , ,

A win for both Nicky Hager and sanity:

Westpac’s failed claim: Customers have signed away their rights to privacy

The privacy of banking information is in the spotlight after Westpac told the Privacy Commission it did not need any legal order before handing over customers’ personal banking details to police.

Westpac claimed it got the power to do so when customers signed the bank’s “terms and conditions” – a move it claimed voided customers’ rights.

It was an argument unsuccessfully made by the bank in its attempt to defend itself over the disclosure of Nicky Hager’s details to police investigating his Dirty Politics book.

In a decision released today, the Privacy Commission expressed doubt in its ruling that the bank could actually hold a “well-founded belief” that its customers had signed away their rights.

In the ruling, Privacy Commissioner John Edwards said Westpac “believes that every customer has authorised the disclosure of all of their information from each of their accounts to Police for whatever reason Police give” even without a search warrant or other legal order.

“I simply cannot accept that is a well-founded belief. As a general proposition it seems untenable that Westpac would genuinely hold this belief.

“I am sure it would come as a surprise to a great many of Westpac’s customers that this were so.” …

Press release from Hager’s lawer Felix Geiringer is here.

29 comments on “Win for sanity in Hager vs Westpac”

  1. One Anonymous Bloke 1

    That fraud allegation deserves criminal charges. Crimes Act S.111

    False statements or declarations
    Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years who, on any occasion on which he is required or permitted by law to make any statement or declaration before any officer or person authorised by law to take or receive it, or before any notary public to be certified by him as such notary, makes a statement or declaration that would amount to perjury if made on oath in a judicial proceeding.

    • McFlock 1.1

      what fraud allegation?

      edit – ah in the linked press release. Cops lied to get the bank to give them the information and falsely said Hager was being investigated for fraud.

      That’s fucked up

      • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.1

        From Geiringer’s press release:

        The Police did not have a warrant or production order for that information. Police falsely said that Mr Hager was being investigated for fraud.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1.2

        From Fisher’s story:

        In the case of one bank, an executive said the police requests were used as an early warning system for the bank to protect itself against customers who might be in trouble with the law.

        How many false statements have been made exactly, and how many people have had banking “problems” as a consequence?

        If the banks want to regain people’s trust after this, they’ll need to pro-actively compensate everyone they’ve committed privacy offences against, without having to be asked.

        How the cops regain trust is beyond me. Prosecutions would be a good start.

  2. saveNZ 2

    Good news, good post.

  3. Leftie 4

    Excellent result.

  4. Whispering Kate 5

    If the Police were allowed to get on with their jobs we wouldn’t have this disgusting state of affairs. Politics should be kept out of the policing of this country, its only when Politicians meddle and dictate to the law enforcers we get this sort of dirty stuff going on. Key was on the rampage with this one just as he was with the Kim Dot Com fiasco, he should have kept out of it and left the legal profession to do their job.

    All our Government Departments are under the thumb of their Cabinet Ministers in charge, shouldn’t there be a degree of separation and not have this threat and control all the time hovering over them. It once used to be the Church being dictated to by Kings wanting their own way – now it seems our politicians want to get into the running of these departments and literally making a God damn mess of things while they are at it. Big Gerry is an example of making a pig’s dinner of everything he touches and Paula Benefit disclosed information about a beneficiary who held her to account – disgraceful and unbecoming way to act in public office.

    We are a very slender degree away from a dictatorship these days.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      Politics should be kept out of the policing of this country, its only when Politicians meddle and dictate to the law enforcers we get this sort of dirty stuff going on.

      Politics should be kept out of policing but that doesn’t mean that the police are clean by default.

      This raid on Hager went down fast and dirty. It may have come from the politicians but don’t think that police didn’t have a grudge after Hager outed their spy in the environmental groups.

  5. silvertuatara 6

    I note that the Kiwibank response was to not comment on their procedures over release of privacy information without statutory authorisation, but to deferred to another agency/organisation.

    I wonder how easy WINZ, the NZ Police and ACC have been able to obtain personal information from the government owned Kiwibank in regards to peoples individual banking information since 2008 when National took the reigns…would be interesting to find out. But then again does not Westpac have significant financial contracts with the NZ Government: http://www.interest.co.nz/business/77956/awarding-new-govt-banking-contracts-westpac-still-crowns-transactional-banking

    Well done Nicky Hager…..I hope that Westpac compensates Nicky Hager handsomely for their breaches of his personal privacy and human rights.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 6.1

      I am looking askance at the Privacy Commissioner:

      …he would not put the case forward for prosecution by the Human Rights Tribunal because Hager had legal representatives who could take that step.

      Aka: the market will provide. All hail market.

      OAB’s alternative statement for the Privacy Commissioner:

      …he would have initiated proceedings were it not for deliberate National Party underfunding, which has now undermined the office to the extent that it can no longer perform its duties. No further comment can be budgeted for in these circumstances.

    • Tophat 6.2

      They just ask Kiwibank.
      It’s a simple note asking for all information pertaining to accounts that are associated with a certain name. Not a form or anything and no explanation why the information is being released or on what authority.

  6. Michael 7

    “A win that should not have been unnecessary”. It should not be necessary for me to tell you that you should not use double-negatives.

    • In Vino 7.1

      Rubbish. Double negatives can be used for emphasis as well as humour..
      Also, I cannot tell who you think you are replying to.

  7. michelle 8

    that is precisely why I left Westpac how dare they hand over his private stuff.
    I suppose they are appeasing the government for awarding them the government accounts. I suggest kiwis get out of that bank and go and support our kiwi banks

  8. Richard McGrath 9

    I wonder whether Hager et al would still defend privacy rights if the bank was Swiss and the customer one of the “1%”?

    • lprent 9.1

      So you think that it is OK for the police to grab data from a bank account without a a warrant or even a production order?

      And here I was thinking that libertarians had a problem with the state doing that. Well scratch a libertarian and you’ll usually find that veneer of ‘ethics’ gets removed to reveal an authoritarian fascist supporter of the secret police.. 😈

      • Richard McGrath 9.1.1

        Not sure how you draw those conclusions from the question I raised. I was pondering how consistent Hager and others are in their opinions. You are quite correct in your assertion that I would have problems with the state seizing data without a search warrant based on probable cause. You are quite mistaken in believing I would support a police state. Why on earth would you think that? Or are you being deliberately provocative?

        • One Anonymous Bloke


          Oh, so that’s what you were doing. And here was me thinking that you’d authored a cowardly weasel smear with no evidence other than your own dishonest prejudice,

          I’m pondering whether Dick ever defends anything other than his own bile and self-interest.

    • Chris 9.2

      That will always depend on the merits, as it did in Hager’s case. If it makes you feel better, in the situation you’ve described there’ll usually be a far greater chance the cops can establish a “well-founded belief”, so you can rest easy.

    • McFlock 9.3

      I suppose that would depend on whether there was evidence that the targeted 1%er had actually committed fraud.

      Although, given the use of a Swiss bank by a rich person, the odds would be quite high even without said evidence, but that’s seperate to the point..

      • Richard McGrath 9.3.1

        Agree McFlock, there would have to be a judge convinced of probable cause issuing a search warrant. Your second paragraph is wishful thinking.

        • McFlock

          Without being too bold, therefore, I think Hager would be cool with it in that context.

          Random cops calling a bank and saying something along the lines of “Hi, XXX is being investigated for fraud, can you email me all their banking records for the past 5 years?” without a warrant and when no such investigation is taking place, Hager seems to be against that.

          Has your question been answered?

      • Chris 9.3.2

        “Although, given the use of a Swiss bank by a rich person, the odds would be quite high even without said evidence, but that’s seperate to the point.”

        No, that is precisely my point!

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