New Zealand Law Society - Commerce Commission court order protects information on stolen computers

Commerce Commission court order protects information on stolen computers

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The High Court has granted an application by the Commerce Commission for an interim injunction against unknown defendants to prohibit anyone dealing with information on stolen computer equipment belonging to one of the Commission's external providers.

In her decision Commerce Commission v Unknown Defendant(s) [2019] NZHC 2609 Justice Gwyn also suppresses information relating to the external service provider, the nature of the services provided by the provider to the Commission, and information about the burglary not disclosed by the Police.

Gwyn J says it is not possible to name the defendant(s) but she is satisfied that jurisdiction to make the order exists.

"It is likely that, as the Police inquiry proceeds, the person(s) who stole the confidential material (and persons in receipt of that information, if any) will be identified. The Commission will then be in a position to serve that party or parties with the orders I have made and come back before this Court with further orders," she says (at [28]).

An earlier statement by the Commerce Commission on 8 October advised that more than 200 meeting and interview transcripts across a range of the Commission’s work were contained on computer equipment stolen in a burglary. The transcripts may date back to early 2016 and contain some confidential information businesses and individuals have provided the Commission.

The Commmission said some of the information was subject to a confidentiality order it issued under section 100 of the Commerce Act. This makes it a criminal offence for any person in possession of the devices or information from the devices to disclose or communicate it to anyone while the orders are in force.