Personal information held by agencies
The Privacy Act controls how 'agencies' collect, use, disclose, store and give access to 'personal information'.
The privacy Codes of Practice do the same, but they apply to specific areas - particularly health, telecommunications and credit reporting.
Personal information is information about identifiable, living people.
Almost every person or organisation that holds personal information is an 'agency'. So, for example, the Privacy Act covers government departments, companies of all sizes, religious groups, schools and clubs.
Exemptions from the Act
Only a few organisations and people are not 'agencies'. Other rules exist to govern how they manage personal information, so the Privacy Act does not cover what they do. Organisations that aren't covered by the Privacy Act include:
The privacy principles
At the heart of the Privacy Act are twelve privacy principles. The privacy principles cover:
There are also four principles covering public registers.
These principles reflect internationally accepted standards for good personal information handling.
The Privacy Commissioner
The current Privacy Commissioner is John Edwards.
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner is an Independent Crown Entity. It is funded by the State, but is independent of government or Ministerial control.
What the Privacy Commissioner does
The Privacy Commissioner has many responsibilities. These include:
(a) an agency wrongfully refuses to give an individual access to information about them, or wrongfully refuses to correct information about them, or
(b) an individual suffers some form of harm as a result of a breach of a privacy principle, rule, or a code of practice or information matching provision.
If you have a general enquiry, search the website for the information you are looking for, call our enquiries team on free phone 0800 803 909 (or 09 302 8655 if you are calling from Auckland), or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have a complaint about privacy that you have not managed to resolve with the agency, you can make a formal complaint to us. We have information about complaints to assist you and a form which you can download. You can also ring us and we will send you a form. Alternatively, write to the Privacy Commissioner at PO Box 10-094, Wellington 6143, explaining your complaint.
For all other matters, you can also write to us at the above address.