Westpac Privacy Statement on information disclosure

There has been some degree of consternation about the report in NZ Herald that Westpac Bank handed over bank account details about Nicky Hager to the Police on request and without a court order. See Obtaining Hager’s Westpac data, David Fisher, the Privacy Act.

Some on Twitter and at The Standard – see Obtaining Hager’s Westpac data, David Fisher, the Privacy Act – slammed Westpac for doing this, but others asked whether this was normal for a bank to volunteer information to the police, and whether other banks may or may not do similar.

It’s worth looking at Westpac’s General Terms and Conditions under Privacy:

You authorise any member of the Westpac Group to disclose your information for any of the purposes detailed above to:

  • any other member of the Westpac Group; and
  • a third party (including a credit reporting agency with whom any member of the Westpac Group has a subscriber agreement), provided that the third party is bound by obligations of confidentiality covering your information.

You should also note that any member of the Westpac Group may obtain, use and disclose information about you where required by law. In addition, you authorise any member of the Westpac Group to disclose your information to the police, government agencies in New Zealand or overseas or other financial institutions where any member of the Westpac Group reasonably believes that the disclosure will assist it to comply with any law, rules or regulations in New Zealand or overseas or will assist in the investigation, detection and/or prevention of fraud, money laundering or other criminal offences.

So Westpac have advised anyone who reads their General Terms that they may hand over information to the Police if they believe that “that the disclosure will assist it to comply with any law, rules or regulations in New Zealand or overseas or will assist in the investigation, detection and/or prevention of fraud, money laundering or other criminal offences”.

That seems to comply with this Privacy Act extract from the Privacy Commission:

An agency that holds personal information shall not disclose the information to a person or body or agency unless the agency believes, on reasonable grounds –

(e) that non-compliance is necessary –

(i) to avoid prejudice to the maintenance of the law by any public sector agency, including the prevention, detection, investigation, prosecution, and punishment of offences; or

(ii) for the enforcement of a law imposing a pecuniary penalty; or

(iii) for the protection of the public revenue; or

(iv) for the conduct of proceedings before any court or tribunal (being proceedings that have been commenced or are reasonably in contemplation);

What about other banks?

Similar from the ASB:

ASB Personal Banking Terms and Conditions

ASBPrivacyPolice

BNZ Standard Terms and Conditions:

11.7 Complying with laws and regulations: You agree to provide us with information we ask for to help us comply with laws, rules or regulations in New Zealand or overseas. We can use your personal information to:
(a) help us comply with laws, rules or regulations in New Zealand or overseas, or any New Zealand or overseas legislative or regulatory requests;

11.13 Who we can share your personal information with: For the purposes described above, we can share your, and your Related Persons’ (for the purposes of clauses 11.6 and 11.7), personal information with:
(a) any other Related Company(ies), its employees, agents and contractors;
(b) any agents or third parties that provide services to or for us (whether in New Zealand or otherwise), including but not limited to, banks, law firms, custodians, fund managers, debt collection agencies, credit reporting agencies or credit providers, credit card providers, loyalty schemes, market research firms and insurers, who have agreed with us to only collect, hold, use and share your personal information for the purposes for which it has been given to them;
(c) the police, any governmental body or agency or regulator in New Zealand or overseas (including any tax authorities);

Kiwibank Terms and Conditions:

Use and disclosure of your information We and our related organisations may use information about you for the purposes set out above. You authorise us to disclose your information to:

  • law enforcement authorities, the courts, government agencies, regulatory authorities or third parties, both in New Zealand and overseas, where we believe the disclosure will assist us to comply with any law or legal rules or will assist in the investigation, detection and/or prevention of fraud, money laundering or other criminal offences;

ANZ General Terms and Conditions:

We may need to give information about you to others to comply with laws in New Zealand or overseas

We must comply with laws in New Zealand and overseas.You agree we can give information about you to the ANZ Group, Police, other financial institutions or government agencies in New Zealand or overseas:

• We can give information about you to help us comply with laws in New Zealand or overseas.

• We can give information about you if we believe giving the information will help prevent fraud, money laundering, or other crimes.

• We can give information about you to help us decide what we need to do to comply with the law in New Zealand or overseas

This may surprise people but all the banks have advised they could hand over information to the Police.

Leave a comment

15 Comments

  1. Pete Kane

     /  24th October 2015

    So Pete do you believe Westpac acted ‘appropriately’? Much better than mucking around with ‘ consternation ‘ etc. I suspect it’s going to fall (for many) on ‘which end of the spectrum’ For me though I decided a while back Hager’s book was in the public interest in the broadest sense and that seems to me a much better place than ‘consternation’ frankly.

    Reply
    • I think the Privacy Commissioner should determine under what situations banks should had over information without a court order. The law seems to allow it but it relies on the judgement of whoever is handing over the information.

      Reply
      • Pete Kane

         /  24th October 2015

        Hi Pete. That’s a fair call/comment, but I suspect you also get my point. But what I think we have always agreed on is that we can’t keep sweeping the ‘complexities’ of this new aspect of politics (cyber) under the carpet, if we want a truly healthy democracy.

        Reply
        • Yes but it takes quite a bit of time for the justice system to deal with all issues that relate to the complexities and in some cases impracticalities of the Internet.

          Reply
          • Pete Kane

             /  24th October 2015

            Agreed. I still believe we have been very tardy in facing these ‘new’ challenges.

            Reply
  2. I am not on the same page as some. I consider that information obtained by theft of personal information is a gross attack on personal privacy and is a crime which should be prosecuted vigorously. I am disturbed by the smoke screen of “public interest” and Journalist rights. Having viewed the summary of bias rom MSM journalists, I reckon the media has crossed a line which separates justified reporting and criminal libel and slander. To allow Journalists access to personal communications of an individual obtained illegally can NOT be justified by claims of preserving democracy, as it indeed is an insult to Democracy.

    Reply
    • Especially when it is published in the month before a General Election.

      Reply
    • In the context of the massive global conspiracy of powerful governments to surveill their citizens – you’re sounding a bit precious. I say why not follow their lead? A conspiracy involving the “elected” prime minister of a right wing pro-wealthy party to manipulate public opinion deserves to be subverted – in the public interest.
      A healthy democracy doesn’t creak and groan under the burdens of secrecy, surveillance, power and loyalty. A healthy democracy isn’t afraid of what might be discovered. A healthy democracy needs no secrecy and isn’t afraid of disclosure. Your problem is that New Zealand isn’t a democracy. It is, in fact, a very very long way away from being a democracy. You sound like you’re either forgetting that or don’t realise that New Zealand Inc. is a power block with powerful interests which will defend themselves vigorously using whatever tactics it can get away with. For the rest of us there’s investigative reporting.

      Reply
  3. Sorry about dropping the “f”, its my age!!

    Reply
  4. Mike C

     /  24th October 2015

    I don’t have any problem at all with any of my Banking Institutions giving the Police my financial details.

    Why would I care ???

    I haven’t committed any illegal acts.

    Fisher is just terrified that the Police and the Justice System are going to come after him and search all of his bank account records … amongst many other things 🙂

    Reply
  5. blitzmate

     /  24th October 2015

    I wonder if David Fisher took time to check the various bank’s disclosure terms and conditions as Pete very helpfully has done for us.

    Reply
    • Joe Bloggs

       /  24th October 2015

      I see by the down-vote that Fisher’s been in and checked your disclosure… 🙂

      Reply
  6. I am amazed that some people are surprised that NZ banks provide clients’ information to the police and IRD on request.

    Reputable banks cooperate with the police (and tax agencies) – banks that insist on protecting the secrecy of their clients tend to be launderers.

    Reply
  7. TomG

     /  27th October 2015

    Handing over personal information in breach of privacy legislation is not assisting in the compliance of law.

    Reply
  1. @Laudafinem go from dirty to despicable | Your NZ

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