If things go wrong
If you think a business or agency has interfered with your privacy:
Contact their privacy officer
Follow that organisation’s complaints process.
How to complain
Contact the Privacy Commissioner
If you’re unhappy with the result of a direct complaint, you can make a complaint to the Privacy Commissioner.
Making a complaint(external link) — Office of the Privacy Commissioner
The Privacy Commissioner handles complaints that an agency has interfered with privacy by breaching one of the privacy principles. The breach must have caused you some kind of harm, eg:
- financial loss
- breach of your rights
- damage to an interest you have
- significant humiliation, loss of dignity or injury to your feelings.
You don’t have to have suffered any harm if your complaint is about access to or correction of personal information.
If the Commissioner finds there is a basis for the complaint, they will try to resolve the dispute initially using mediation or conciliation. If this is not successful, the Commissioner will do a formal investigation. The Privacy Commissioner can’t award you compensation or fine the agency for any breaches, but they may issue an access direction to require the agency to provide the personal information to the individual(s).
The Privacy Commissioner can’t award you compensation or fine the agency for any breaches.
Apply to the Human Rights Review Tribunal
If you’re unhappy with the Privacy Commissioner’s opinion or refusal to investigate your complaint, you can apply for a hearing with the Human Rights Review Tribunal (HRRT).
Make a claim(external link) — Human Rights Review Tribunal
The Tribunal can award various remedies after hearing a case, including:
- a declaration that the agency breached the law
- an order preventing repetition of the breach
- an order to do something to rectify the breach
- an award of costs against the losing party.
The HRRT has the power to make a binding decision on the parties, including awarding compensation.
You can’t go to the Disputes Tribunal or to court to complain about a breach of your privacy.
Get support at any point from:
- Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) — this is a free, independent service, run by volunteers. CAB can advise you on your consumer rights and obligations, in person, by phone, or online.
- Community Law Centre — this service offers free one-on-one legal advice to people with limited finances. The organisation has 24 community law centres throughout the country. You can find legal information and other resources on its website.
Find a CAB(external link) — Citizens Advice Bureau
Our law centres(external link) — Community Law Centres