Privacy Commissioner John Edwards is pushing to boost his powers so he can name and shame companies and agencies who breach customers' personal privacy.
"I think it's time to start sending a signal to agencies that there may be consequences for repeated breaches of the Privacy Act," he says. "This law has been here for 21 years and we've taken a softly, softly approach but the public now demands that my office and companies take this issue seriously."
The move was partly a response to the office not having tools available to similar overseas privacy bodies - such as the jurisdiction to issue fines.
Not all offenders will be named but, under the policy, companies and agencies are more likely to be outed if the breach affects more than just the person who complained. Edwards cites the example of an appointment book being left open on the counter of a doctor's waiting room.
The new regime was triggered in part by the office's probe into credit reporting agency Veda Advantage, which was overcharging customers for urgent requests for credit information, he said.
The new naming policy will take effect in November.
- The Dominion Post