Nicky Hager has filed a case against Westpac with the Human Rights Review Tribunal. This is yet another step in Mr Hager’s response to the unlawful search of his home and private information by Police.
The Privacy Commissioner recently upheld Mr Hager’s complaint against Westpac for breaching his privacy. However, the Privacy Commissioner’s decision is advisory only. To obtain binding orders, Mr Hager needs to take his case to the Human Rights Review Tribunal.
Mr Hager believes the attitude of Westpac has left him with no choice but to continue with his case. “He has asked Westpac to acknowledge that it breached his rights. Despite the Privacy
Commissioner’s ruling, it has not been prepared to do that,” Mr Hager’s lawyer Felix Geiringer said.
Mr Hager will be asking the Human Rights Review Tribunal for binding orders requiring that Westpac not give its customers’ bank transaction data to the Police without a production order.
There may be thousands of people in the same position as Mr Hager, but who do not know it. “He has also asked the Human Rights Review Tribunal for an order requiring Westpac to notify everyone whose privacy may have already been breached,” Mr Geiringer said.
Even if Mr Hager is successful before the Human Rights Review Tribunal, the broader issue may remain. “This issue does not just relate to Westpac. All New Zealand’s banks had the same arrangement with the Police. Many other companies have also been releasing personal information without asking for a production order.”
A claim against the Police for making the requests is still before the High Court.