New Zealand Law Society - NZ Post takes out audio devices in delivery vehicles after privacy breach

NZ Post takes out audio devices in delivery vehicles after privacy breach

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New Zealand Post has removed all cameras with an audio capacity from its electronic delivery vehicles after a postie’s privacy was breached.

The postie complained to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner about audio recordings made by cameras installed on his Paxster electric delivery vehicle.

His team leader had confronted him about phone calls he had made during his mail run and conversations he had had with members of the public. He was unaware the cameras had an audio capacity.

Principle 1 of the Privacy Act says that personal information must only be collected if the collection is for a lawful purpose connected with what the agency does.

NZ Post said the delivery agents were not acting in a personal capacity as they were employees completing their delivery work.

The Office found that, although delivery agents are at work, the cameras installed on the Paxster vehicles were still recording personal information about them, for example, personal conversations with people they met during the delivery round.

NZ Post considered the audio recordings necessary for the purposes of investigating incidents or accidents that occurred during the delivery round.

“We were not convinced that continuous audio recordings were necessary for safety purposes. Thousands of hours of footage were being collected about the delivery agents and members of the public, and yet there were relatively few accidents. It was not clear that the audio recordings would prevent accidents from happening or provide information that would lead to changes in safety policies,” the Office says in its decision.

Not made aware of audio recordings

Furthermore, principle 3 says that when collecting information, agencies must make people aware of the fact that information is being collected, the purpose for the collection and the intended recipients of the information.

The Office found that NZ Post had breached this principle, as the postie was not made aware of the fact that cameras were recording audio during his delivery round.

Principle 4 says that personal information should not be collected by an agency by unlawful means, or means that are unfair or are unreasonably intrusive.

“In our view, the need to investigate possible incidents and accidents needed to be balanced with the Delivery Agent’s right to maintain a reasonable degree of privacy and dignity, and that of the people with whom they interact as they make their round. The delivery agents spend a considerable amount of time in the Paxster vehicles and it would be unsettling for them, and unreasonable intrusive, to record audio during the entire time a Paxster is being driven.”

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner facilitated a mediation of the complaint and the parties reached a settlement. NZ Post has changed its policy and no longer uses cameras with an audio function on its Paxster vehicles.

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