Shhh! The postie's passing . . .

Whisper who dares . . .
Tom Dillane

Whisper who dares . . .

EDITORIAL: Feel free to chat to your postie. If we can suggest a cheerful conversational opener it might be this: "You've got some idiot bosses, don't you?"

NZ Post, for at least a second time, has undertaken a shabby and furtive intrusion into the privacy of New Zealanders.

Forward-pointing cameras mounted on the new four-wheel delivery vehicles were installed, we were told, in case of accident or incident.

But the devices have also been continuously on audio, recording posties' conversations with the public. Even, potentially, pedestrians talking with one another, or householders on their own properties, but within electronic earshot of the passing Paxsters.

READ MORE: NZ Post to silence audio recordings

Posties weren't told about this, according to their union. The public certainly wasn't.

The state-owned enterprise says this information is only held a short time and would only be accessed if needed. So it's saying "trust us" having not, itself, trusted either the community or its own staff with the knowledge of what it was up to.

The audios have been switched off while the Privacy Commissioner looks into what's happened.

Can NZ Post really say, hand on heart, it didn't for a moment think its posties, let alone people going about their daily lives, had a right to know about it?

Traditionally, New Zealanders have placed a good deal of trust in the humanity of their posties. Even when people haven't been best pleased by the corporate entity, the figure passing by the front gate, or coming into the property, is generally given a level of respect that exists, largely, because it's been earned decade after decade.

And this, remember, is a company that right now has advertisements encouraging us to make arrangements for posties to nip into the nooks and crannies of our properties to tuck away parcels if we're not home to receive them.

Twelve years ago NZ Post was in serious disodour for the almost farcically stupid idea that posties should record into lapel microphones the addresses of houses that could do with a fresh paint job. The idea was the information could then be passed on to a paint company for use in a marketing campaign.

When the public found out the howls of outrage led to the prompt abandonment of the trial. Here's what the chief executive at the time, John Allen, said at the time: "I suppose what it has done is reinforced for us the very high trust with which the community views the postie and it's a fairly clear signal to us that we have got to be careful how we deploy our postie workforce in the community."

Evidently not clear enough.

 

 - Stuff

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