Case Note 100091 [2009] NZPrivCmr 2 : District council records not a ‘publicly available publication’ under the Privacy Act

A woman was engaged in an argument with a district council. She spoke to the local newspaper about the dispute, and the newspaper then published an article about it. A reader wrote a letter to the editor criticising the council and the newspaper invited the council to respond.The council did so. In the process, it provided detailed information about its previous interactions with the woman. This response went well beyond what the woman had herself disclosed. It was published in the next issue of the newspaper.Principle 11 Principle 11 of the Privacy Act provides that an agency should not disclose personal information unless an exception applies. Principle 11(b) allows an agency to disclose personal information if it believes, on reasonable grounds, that the source of the information is a publicly available publication. Section 2 of the Act defines publicly available publication as a magazine, book, newspaper or other publication that…

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