NZ banks’ terms & conditions for handing customer data to the police

Nicky Hager’s lawyer Felix Geiringer  asks: What do New Zealand’s leading banks say in their terms and conditions about handing their customers’ data to Police and other Govt agencies?

They say they will hand over customer to data in breach of Privacy Act. Westpac have apologised to Hager and have promised to change their terms

But the other major banks have made vague assertions that they will not breach customer privacy but still have dodgy terms, and have not made a commitment to change their terms to comply with the law.

Regardless of views about Hager’s use of hacked data, this is an important issue for everyone.

Via Twitter @BarristerNZ:

There has been significant publicity over Westpac’s decision to hand Nicky Hager’s data to Police. But this issue was never limited to Westpac.

A study conducted by the OPC in 2015 suggested that our financial institutions might have been releasing to Govt the data of close to 10,000 customers per annum without a warrant / production order.

Possibly close to 10,000 customers each year! And this appears to have been happening for over a decade.

Plus, all our banks, not just Westpac, had entered into a written agreement with NZ Police to give over customers data without warrants or productions orders.

Basically, all our banks promised Police that they would breach the Privacy Act if Police asked them to. And it looks like Police may have made many thousands of such requests.

Westpac said to Hager that its terms permitted the release. The OPC rejected the argument that those terms could be relied upon. However, Westpac terms, on their face, did set a much lower bar for releasing data than our Privacy or Search and Surveillance legislation.

Westpac have apologised for its breach, and it has also promised to change its terms. There will now be an enforceable contractual promise from that bank to customers that it will not do this again.

What about other banks?

I am told that in answer to journalists’ questions some other banks have made vague assertions that they will not breach customer privacy. But what do their terms actually say?

Kiwibank’s terms are very similar to the ones Westpac had at the time of the Hager release.

Kiwibank’s terms assert that, by banking with it, you authorise it to release your data to Police whenever Kiwibank thinks it will help Police with an investigation.

That test bypasses the protections that parliament has put in place which limit releases to circumstances where Police can objectively establish reasonable grounds to believe the data is evidence of a crime.

ANZ’s terms are almost the same again, arguably even looser. It says that by banking with it you agree that it can give your data to Police if it believes that doing so will help prevent crime.

ASB’s terms are more open to interpretation. It can release data to Police when required to by law. There can be no objection to that. But it can also release data in a variety of other circumstances.

ASB’s terms define the purposes for which it is holding your data to include to “investigate illegal activity”. The terms allow release to 3rd parties for this purpose. However, the Govt isn’t expressly listed as one of those 3rd parties.

If the list of 3rd parties in ASB’s terms is read as a closed list, it arguably has the best terms. If it is not read as a closed list, then it has one of the worst terms.

BNZ’s terms are clear, and are clearly the worst of those discussed here. Its terms claim that you have authorised it to share your data with Police or other Govt agencies for the purpose of detecting any crime.

The circumstances of release permitted by BNZ’s terms are astoundingly broad. Those terms have little regard for the duty to protect the secrecy of BNZ’s customers’ information.

I haven”t analysed TSB’s terms.

So, there you have it, and I think that this raises serious questions. We know the NZ banks were doing a very bad job of protecting our private data. They say they are doing better now, but are they?

And, if these banks are now not handing over data to Police without a warrant or production order, why is this still not reflected in their terms?

Principle 11, Privacy Act 1993 – 6 Information privacy principles: Limits on disclosure of personal information


Corbyn threatens banks

Big banks billed the plebs, businesses and countries, but provide essential finance for them all to do and get what they want.

Better banks or no banks?

There will be discussion on this at The Standard: Corbyn vs bankers

Brexit a further blow to Italian banks

The domino effect of the UK Brexit vote could topple European countries already under a lot of pressure.

Italian banks had already been struggling, but the market slump post Brexit has dumped on them even more.

Bloomberg: Italy Explores Bank-Rescue Options With EU on Brexit Losses

The Italian government, which failed to gain European Union backing for a bad bank just months ago, is sounding out regulators on ways to shore up its banks after their shares were hammered following the U.K.’s vote to secede from the bloc.

The government in Rome is considering measures that may inject as much as 40 billion euros ($44 billion) into banks, possibly by providing capital or pledging guarantees, said a person with knowledge of the talks. The amount is still under discussion and no final decision has been made, the person said.

And EU rules limit the Italian Government’s options for propping them up.

Italy’s government earlier this year was forced to water down plans for a publicly funded bad bank on EU resistance, instead creating a smaller fund backed by lenders and investors to help stabilize the financial system and speed up consolidation.

Use of public money to prop up banks would require European Commission approval under EU state-aid rules.

Italy may evoke exceptional circumstances of systemic stress caused by Brexit to allow all European governments to help banks with public funds, la Repubblica reported without citing anyone. Under the plan, Europe would close the window for waiving state-aid rules after six months, the newspaper said.

EU state-aid rules normally require shareholders and junior creditors to take losses before public money is put into a bank.

One exception foreseen is for aid provided in “exceptional circumstances.” This requires a unanimous decision of EU member states.

Another provision allows for an exception from the bail-in requirement when enforcing it would “endanger financial stability.”

Britain is still a member state of the EU so would presumably still have a say, if anything was decided before they left.

Other countries may be more of a problem.

Sven Giegold, a German member of the European Parliament, said Italy was “quite brazen” to try to use the “Brexit confusion” to push through state aid for banks.

There is a real possibility that the referendum in Britain could precipitate the collapse of Italian banks (which slumped 20% in value since the Brexit vote)  and the country’s already shaky economy.

However the post-Brexit slump may be over. For now. Perhaps.

Stuff: European Union leaders tell Britain to exit swiftly, market rout halts

Financial markets recovered slightly after the result of Thursday’s (Friday NZT) referendum wiped a record US$3 trillion off global shares and sterling fell to its lowest level in 31 years against the dollar, but trading was volatile and policymakers said they would take all necessary measures to protect their economies.


Greens and foreign banks

The Greens recently released policy to promote Kiwibank over Australian owned banks.

More Green MPs than not deal with Kiwibank (or TSB, a New Zealand owned bank). Only three of them have mortgages with foreign owned banks and one has a Kiwisaver account with one.

All MPS are free to choose which banks they do business with, and may have good reasons for dealing with non-New Zealand owned banks.

Steffan Browning

  • Kiwibank Kiwisaver

David Clendon

  • ASB Bank – mortgage

Marama Davidson – none

Catherine Delahunty

  • ASB Bank KiwiSaver
  • Kiwibank – mortgage

Julie Anne Genter

  • Kiwibank – mortgage

Dr Kennedy Graham

  • Kiwibank KiwiSaver
  • Kiwibank – mortgage

Kevin Hague

  • Kiwibank – mortgage

Gareth Hughes

  • ASB Bank – KiwiSaver
  • Westpac Bank – mortgage

Jan Logie

  • Bank of New Zealand – mortgage

Mojo Mathers

  • Kiwibank – mortgage

Denise Roche

  • TSB Bank – mortgage

James Shaw

  • Kiwibank Kiwi Wealth KiwiSaver

Metiria Turei

  • Kiwibank – mortgage

Source: 2016 Register of Pecuniary Interests






Little reiterates bank strong arm approach

Andrew Little was interviewed on Q&A this morning. He is unlikely to make any breakthrough with winning support from his performance. One thing he seems to have become adept at is avoiding answering awkward questions.

One thing he made clear was his comments about stiff arming banks wasn’t a one -off slip. He reiterated his stance, and went further: “I stand by the stance I took, which is to get very heavy-handed with the banks.”

And: “If the banks don’t want to play ball when it comes to the way we run our monetary policy, actually, there’s only one outfit that can really take them on, and that’s the government.”

Jessica Mutch: You talk about ups and downs, has the last few weeks been an up or a down for you do you think?

Andrew Little: Oh, it’s been up and down, and I think you know you raised the issue about stiff arming the banks.

Actually I  got a huge amount of feed back from that, people saying ‘at last someone’s prepared to stand up to the overseas banks, who frankly have been, you know, flipping the bird to our Reserve Bank.

When the Reserve Bank does the orthodox thing and says ok, economy’s slowing,  we need to tick down interest rates so it’s cheaper to borrow, put a bit more money in people’s pockets, and what do our overseas trading banks do? They say ‘ah-ah, not us, we’re not going to do that’.

I’m not aware of any banks saying anything like that. In fact it looks to me that all the banks have reduced their fixed rates since I looked at them at the end of January.

Andrew Little: That’s not acceptable. It’s actually not orthodox, but it’s also not acceptable.

And what a Government doing it’s job has to do, when faced with that, is stand up to them and say no no, ah we’ve got an economy here that we’ve got to sort out, we’re all in this together, and we need you to be doing your bit.

Ah the Government refused to do that, because frankly they are scared of multinational corporates.

I think that Governments since the Muldoon led one in the seventies and eighties have refused to ‘do that’. They seem to be scared that a repeat of a Government dictated economy might lead to the country nearly going broke again.

And there may be more than a few voters a bit scared about what may happen if an Andrew Little led Government started standing up to banks and other multinational companies and stiff arming them. They may turn around and give New Zealand the finger.

And there’s more later on in the interview.

Jessica Mutch: Because another big idea that you did raise was threatening to legislate against the banks, trying to get that record low OCR of 2.5% passed on to consumers. Do you still stand by that?

Voxy has transcript from there:

ANDREW ‘I stand by the stance I took, which is to get very heavy-handed with the banks. Because the truth is when the banks fail to follow the signal that the Reserve Bank is sending, that’s keeping money out of the back pockets of ordinary Kiwis, and I will always fight for their interests and for their rights. If the banks don’t want to play ball when it comes to the way we run our monetary policy, actually, there’s only one outfit that can really take them on, and that’s the government.’

But Mr Little wouldn’t be drawn on whether his position was pre-planned policy.

JESSICA Threatening to legislate, though, is that something that you’d been planning on speaking out for a long time? Is that something that you guys had had discussions on?

ANDREW No, it was about sending a signal–

JESSICA So you hadn’t formulated this policy?

ANDREW It’s about sending a signal that when one of our most important measures we have – one of the very few measures that the government or a government agency has to assist the economy as it’s slowing down, get a bit of impetus going – and the overseas-owned trading banks just cock a snook at it, you actually do have to respond. The government should’ve responded.

JESSICA But my question is – is this a policy you had been looking at for a long time?

ANDREW The approach that I will take and in fact was signalling in that statement is that we’re not going to accept it if the trading banks want to come here, not follow the signals that the Reserve Bank is sending. Because that starts to undo one of the fundamental basis of our economic system. We want to run monetary policy. That’s what we give the Reserve Bank the job to do. If the trading banks don’t want to play ball, then you’ve got to get heavy-handed with them.

JESSICA Not answering the question makes me feel like it isn’t something you’ve been looking at for a long time. Were you caught out on this policy a little bit?

ANDREW I think what some people might be having difficulty coming to grips with is that I believe that a government is there to govern, that when the interests of ordinary New Zealanders are put at risk because, in this case, a bunch of corporates decided they just don’t care about it and they want to maximise their profit, actually, the role of government is to govern and make sure things are happening in the best interest of New Zealanders. And I don’t shrink from that at all, and somebody’s got to be the voice for that, and I’m happy to be it.

Source for the last transcript: Little ‘stands by his threats to stiff-arm the banks’

Little’s banking ballsup

Andrew Little is getting clobbered from all directions for suggesting he would ‘stiff-arm’ banks to get them to cut interest rates in line with OCR reductions, and if necessary legislate.

Radio NZ: Labour call on bank OCR cuts ‘dumb idea’ – English

Andrew Little says the government should pressure the major banks to reduce their mortgage interest rates, and if he was prime minister he could go as far as legislating to make them do so.

“I would start with pretty serious talking, you might say ‘stiff-arming’, and if they are not responsive to that, I guess you’ve got to look at your options when you are in government.

“You have the power to legislate, but I think you have got to have a pretty serious talk to the banks about expectations.”

Mr Little said if he did have to legislate he would do so reluctantly and with a heavy heart.

Responses have been scathing, with Little getting ridiculed in parliament by John Key.

And Bill English:

“I don’t think anyone in New Zealand wants the leader of the opposition setting interest rates, we tried that back in the 70s and 80s and it ends up with politicians always deciding to try and keep rates in a different place than they should be, so I think it’s a pretty dumb idea.”

Mr English said he was quite surprised by Mr Little’s comments.

“I mean the Labour Party in the past has always been fairly mainstream on economics, but now they are opposing trade, want the government to set interest rates, it’s headed in a fairly different direction, I think they’re just competing with the Greens.”

But even the Greens have declined to back political directives to banks, which is managed by the Reserve Bank with a separation from political interference.

Although there was no competition with the Greens on the matter, as the party’s finance spokesperson, Julie-Anne Genter was somewhat lukewarm on the idea of forcing banks to drop their rates.

Little didn’t say whether he would stiff-arm banks to raise interest rates if the OCR went up.

He has landed a balls up in his finance spokespersons lap, presuming Grant Robertson recognises the foolishness of Little’s remarks.

The only positive for Little is it is not election year.

Revolution in Switzerland?

An op-ed from Sam Gerrans has been getting a bit of attention – Switzerland: Poised for a revolution?

When Iceland jailed its bankers something changed. The unthinkable had happened: the real criminals had been held to account. Now Switzerland is also threatening to go off the fiat-bankster reservation. But will it happen?

In an article entitled “Switzerland to vote on banning banks from creating money” the Telegraph reports: “Switzerland will hold a referendum to decide whether to ban commercial banks from creating money.

The Swiss federal government confirmed on Thursday that it would hold a plebiscite, after more than 110,000 people signed a petition calling for the central bank to be given sole power to create money in the financial system.

The campaign – led by the Swiss Sovereign Money movement and known as the Vollgeld initiative – is designed to limit financial speculation by requiring private banks to hold 100pc reserves against their deposits.

This sounds incredibly dull, doesn’t it? But the idea behind it is what revolutions are made of.

The article continues: “Banks won’t be able to create money for themselves any more, they’ll only be able to lend money that they have from savers or other banks, said the campaign group.”

I’ll repeat that bit: they’ll only be able to lend money that they have from savers or other banks.

That’s probably what you think banks do: lend money they acquire from savers or other banks.

But no! They are busy creating money (albeit by a circuitous route); that is, they are busy magicking that thing the rest of us spend our lives working so hard to obtain – money – into existence. They do it by means of the creation of an imaginary thing called debt. We then undertake to pay these fictional notions back, and do so with interest.

Not only is this outright fraud and theft against the poor sap who signed the original credit agreement, it also debases the value of every single unit of the currency in which the transaction takes place.

Put in business terms, it is equivalent to printing more shares.

The article continues: “The SNB (Swiss National Bank) was established in 1891, with exclusive power to mint coins and issue Swiss banknotes.

However, over 90 percent of money in circulation in Switzerland now exists in the form of “electronic” cash created by private banks, rather than the central bank.

‘Due to the emergence of electronic payment transactions, banks have regained the opportunity to create their own money,’ said the Swiss Sovereign Money campaign.

‘The decision taken by the people in 1891 has fallen into oblivion.’

That is correct: if we had access to the same computer terminals the banks have, we could magic in or out of existence all the imaginary stuff we are trained to think of as important – money – in whatever quantities we liked.

This is how it works: when they print quite a lot of this stuff there is a boom. When they print too much of it, there is inflation (actually, the printing of money is inflation). When they stop printing it or simply hold on to it, there is a depression.

As long as the people keep slaving away and let the bankers give them pieces of paper or blips on a computer screen in exchange for their blood, sweat and tears, everything is fine.

But if a nation begins to wake up to the con and starts pushing back it is visited by a color revolution, cultural invasion, or simply bombed back into the Stone Age.

That’s it. You now understand economics.


Now back to the prospective plebiscite in Switzerland.

I am skeptical that this duck will get airborne without being shot down. The democracy the Swiss think they have is a pleasant enough fiction, but I am sure it will never be allowed to interfere with business.

And if we read the article carefully, it does say that the central bank should be given sole right to create money. This would essentially leave the creation of money in the same hands as those who control the Federal Reserve or the Bank of England rather than allow them to farm out the process. But at least it shows that people are beginning to wake up to where the true power lies.

In the unlikely event that this grass-roots movement in Switzerland should get its way and its proposed legislation be enacted, and then begin to morph into something which really does threaten the banking elite, we must not be surprised if Switzerland is shortly discovered to be harboring weapons of mass destruction, or to have masterminded 9/11, or to be financing Islamic State.

Yes, we will need to brace ourselves to be educated by a Western media unanimous in pointing out the connections to be made between the production of precision watches, pavements so clean you can eat your lunch off them, and the evil of an irrational hatred of freedom – one with roots in a culture which tacitly supports jihad against all non-eaters of expensive confectionery.

Freedom. You’ve got to love it!

Here’s something else from Gerrans, from eleven years ago:

I don’t believe in democracy. In some liberal circles this makes me a heretic who should be shot.

I suggest that – internal squabbles notwithstanding – the strong and powerful do more or less what they want, and the rest is just PR. This view is unflattering to the rabbits caught in the headlights of Democratic rhetoric, but I can’t help that. Still, happily for me, as things get worse in the Middle East, the liberals will find it increasingly difficult to justify their worldview to themselves. It’s small comfort in the circumstances, but it’s something.

Democracy’s key attraction for those who truly wield power is the fact that widespread belief that we are free is a cost-efficient means of control. But democracy is not and never has been Freedom; merely dictatorship-lite. And now the Totalitarian infrastructure is in place our rulers can opt to dispense with the spin.

Democracy will, of course, cling to its touchy-feely slogans for as long as it is expedient. But since the real U.S. game plan is to ratchet up the stakes in the Middle East to the level of war necessary to complete the project for Greater Israel – from the Nile to the Euphrates – and since the history of the last hundred years shows that no sacrifice to this end is too great, don’t be surprised if our rulers drop the pretence that this is anything but a good old fashioned massacre and start levelling whole Iraqi cities.

My point here is not to draw moral conclusions. I have my opinion of course. But, for me, the bottom line is this: The strong and the sneaky do what they do and the rest of us need to decide what – if anything – we are going to do about it.

Just don’t wave the democracy dogma in my face because I don’t believe in it.

So shoot me.