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NZ Post defends itself against privacy accusations

Published: 2:25PM Monday June 20, 2011 Source: ONE News / Newstalk ZB

New Zealand Post is defending itself against accusations it breached privacy laws by sharing personal data collected in a postal survey.

The Lifestyle survey - which collects personal information and rents it out to market market companies - has drawn criticism due to the extensive personal data collated, including income details.

But New Zealand Post Communications Manager John Tulloch said it is a common and legitimate business practice and is adamant the company acting lawfully.

Tulloch said they have tidied up any confusion about the survey, stressing that it is completely voluntary.

A Privacy Commission report, by Professor Paul Roth of Otago University, has slammed the 2009 NZ Post survey, labelling it a "systematic, large-scale breach" of privacy principles.

Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff investigated the survey after she was approached by concerned members of the public.

She said people may have been enticed into giving out their personal details by the chance of winning the prize NZ Post offered participants.

"When those personal details are being collected solely to on-sell to third parties, it is easy for there to be a blurring of legal and ethical duties," Shroff told the Dominion Post.

"It concerns me that the people providing the raw material for that profit are not fully in the picture."

Shroff's reports into the survey will be released this week.

NZ Post will also begin sending out this year's surveys to households this week.