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An advertisement was placed by a real estate agency in a daily newspaper to publicise its success in achieving property sales and to thank its clients for using their services.

The complainants, who had purchased a property together, objected to this unauthorised publication of their names as buyers of a property.

They found the publication of their names distressing. They said the advertisement had caused considerable embarrassment as family, friends and work colleagues learned that they had bought a property jointly, after they had chosen not to tell anyone of the purchase.

I considered the publication of their names as buyers was a disclosure of personal information which had resulted in significant humiliation of the complainants. None of the exceptions to information privacy principle 11 applied. The disclosure was, in my opinion, an interference with their privacy.

Upon the notification of my opinion, the case was resolved to the satisfaction of the complainants.

November 1995

Disclosure of personal information - Real estate agent - Advertisement promoting real estate agent named purchasers of properties - 'Significant humiliation' - Interference with complainants' privacy - Privacy Act 1993, s 66(1)(b)(iii) - Information privacy principle 11