Privacy In Theory Or Privacy In Practice

What is it in the Marris Report that Swimming New Zealand (SNZ) are trying to hide? They have had their normal, Approachable lawyer working away for six months or so trying desperately to keep me or anyone else from reading the un-redacted Report. The “Approachable Lawyer’s” website doesn’t tell us his hourly rate. But this week he went overseas on holiday and handed over the Marris Report case to Christchurch based privacy specialist, Barrister Kathryn Dalziel.

Her website is impressive. She clearly has a huge specialist knowledge of privacy cases. Websites can be deceptive but facts don’t lie. The privacy matters Dalziel has dealt with suggests she is an expert on the subject. SNZ are paying through the nose to get the best. At $400 an hour let’s hope they have got an expert.

But consider that hourly cost for a moment. Why are SNZ prepared to spend $400 an hour to keep my private information away from me? Why are SNZ happy to spend $400 an hour to keep the Marris Report secret from the SNZ members? What is in the Report that justifies that amount of money? Shouldn’t someone be preparing a question to be asked at the next AGM? Isn’t anyone concerned about the member’s money spent on legal fees?

Just consider this – a day and a half spent on a Christchurch lawyer could have paid for Daniel Hunter to go to the World Swimming Championships. It will take about 40 swimmer’s membership fees to pay for about 10 hours legal work hiding whatever is in the Marris Report. There has to be something pretty incredible in that Report to justify spending your money and mine on a lawyer – even if she is a good lawyer.

But I really love one feature of the choice SNZ has made for a lawyer to act for them while the Approachable version is away. You see the government is in the process of considering changes to the 1993 Privacy Act. That’s the Act we are dealing with in the Marris Report case. The proposed law change is going through all the committee hearings and readings required for it to become law. But guess who is one of the people advising the government of the changes it should make? You are right – Kathryn Dalziel. I told you she knew her stuff.

But the interesting thing is that Dalziel has written about the proposed new law on her website. I was deeply interested in a couple of the alterations to the 1993 law she was promoting. Here are three reforms Dalziel recommends on website.

new criminal offences: it will be an offence to mislead an agency in a way that affects someone else’s information. The penalty is a fine not exceeding $10,000.

Where is the law when you need it? SNZ have lied without shame throughout this process. The other day they told the Human Rights Review Tribunal (HRRT) that I had never been promised a copy of the Marris Report. However here is a sentence from an email sent to me by the author of the Report. – “I am in the process of finalising a report to Swimming New Zealand. As I have assured you from our first meeting, you will certainly receive a copy of that.” And that promise is in addition to the verbal promise given to me by the CEO of SNZ when I was asked to participate in the investigation.

SNZ wrote in a letter that my interest in getting the Marris Report was to publically discredit those who made the complaints. That is not true and has never been said by me. My interest is to establish the truth; to find out what Marris said. I have little or no interest in Susan Turner or Nikki Johns.

I could go on but those two examples are probably enough to see what I mean.

·         compliance notices: the Privacy Commissioner will be able to issue compliance notices that require an agency to do something, or stop doing something, in order to comply with privacy law.

Can we backdate the new law? No I guess not. That is sad because the Privacy Commission recommended that SNZ give me the Marris Report and undertake a course in Privacy. We know SNZ refused to comply with the Report recommendation. My guess is they haven’t bothered about the privacy education either. But what an opportunity they have now. You see Kathryn Dalziel is an approved person to teach courses in privacy. SNZ should give her a call. They must have her number.

Privacy Commissioner making binding decisions on access requests: this reform will enable the Privacy Commissioner to make decisions on complaints relating to access to information, rather than the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

“Binding decisions”! Now that’s a step forward. The Privacy Commissioner told SNZ what they needed to do with the Marris Report – give me a copy. And SNZ ignored them. Actually worse that ignoring them – SNZ told the Commissioner there was no way that was about to happen. It seems that in SNZ’s world everybody has to drive below 100kph except SNZ. However the good news is that very soon even SNZ are going to have to comply with the law.

But I live in hope. Just maybe, if Kathryn Dalziel’s website is to be believed, just maybe, perhaps, it could be, that she will convince Cotterill and Johns this case is a lost and futile cause for them. The Marris Report together with a cheque for the damages SNZ has caused should be dispatched to my home. The amount is only 600 hours of a good lawyer’s time.

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