Former lovers should have to think twice about posting compromising pictures of their ex online, the Law Commission says.
Recommendations around publishing offensive material online were
presented by the Law Commission yesterday after a
four-year review into privacy
The report includes more than 140 recommendations including closing the legal loophole that allows jilted ex-lovers to post naked photos of their former partners online, without their consent.
Other recommendations include allowing people to
block telemarketers; making agencies notify victims of a data
breach where personal information has been lost or stolen and
tightening up information sharing between government agencies
Law Commissioner, Professor John Burrows, says if you take embarrassing domestic pictures of someone under the current law, you can't be found guilty of a breach of privacy.
"You can sort of see the rationale for it, you don't want the Privacy Commissioner in your own home, regulating domestic affairs," he told TV ONE's Breakfast.
But Burrows said that when privacy legislation was passed 18 years ago, the possibilities of the internet and social media weren't yet foreseen.
He said there are now cases where people put offensive and humiliating material, like nude photographs, online when it's clearly no longer just of domestic relevance.
"If it's private material used in a really offensive way, then something really ought to be done."
However even under the proposed changes, Burrows says damage to people's privacy may only be limited,not stopped.
"And since a lot of the stuff comes from overseas anyway, there are limits to what you can do," he said.
He says even if damage can be limited in some way, then "that's a pretty good start".
Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff has highlighted the issue as one of three urgent priorities for action.
Lawyer Mai Chen from Public and Employment law specialists Chen Palmer told TV ONE's AMP Business that the report is significant for New Zealand businesses.
"The world has changed in the past 10 years. We live in a technical revolution, it's unexpected and it's moving very fast."
She said businesses need a whole new set of legislation to counter the opportunities to invade people's privacy.
"There's been an explosion in ways people can be spied upon, where information can be intercepted," she said.
Chen says businesses also need to be more responsible for their actions.
"If there are now more technical ways in which people's privacy can be breached, if you're running a good business, they expect you to be responsible and to protect their privacy.
"If you don't, the Privacy Commissioner is now recommended to be given much greater power to intervene and to make you comply."
She said it is good news to see recommendations for a more streamlined process for dealing with privacy complaints.
"At the moment it's a really long process with a lot of mediation involved," she said.
She said people who believe their privacy has been breached will want it rectified quickly and the report's recommendations should allow this.
Chen says given the public's clear voice that they feel uncomfortable with privacy breaches, businesses need to listen.
"If you are a responsible business you have nothing to fear," she said.
Minister of Justice Simon Power presented the report yesterday and any proposed legislative changes will be heard through a select committee process.
What do you think of the Law Commission's recommendations? Do they go far enough? Have your say on our messageboard below.