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    Herald (New Zealand): Policeman’s leak of data breached privacy law

    The Herald in New Zealand reports on a case where a policeman misused his access to government files. We’ve talked before about insiders abusing or misusing their access privileges to violate people’s rights— including an immigration officer in Britain who added his wife to a terrorist watchlist. In January, in Tucson, University Medical Center officials fired three employees for violating privacy of patients connected to the shooting rampage of which Jared Loughner is accused Last year, Ohio police, court and DMV employees used their access to government databases to violate the privacy of an “American Idol” contestant. In 2008, Illinois employees were suspended for improperly accessing Obama’s driving records.

    Now, the Herald reports:

    A police officer who leaked secret information to his wife in a bid to win a custody battle with her ex-husband also breached privacy law, a watchdog has ruled.

    The Herald revealed in February that an internal police investigation found Senior Constable Terry Beatson used the police National Intelligence Application (NIA) to open the man’s file 17 times over four years. Doing unauthorised checks over the network is considered serious misconduct under the police code of conduct and can be grounds for dismissal.

    The North Shore officer has kept his job despite giving confidential information to his wife, who was in a custody battle with her ex-partner over their young son. […]

    Now, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner has ruled the police breached two principles of the Privacy Act. Given the “acrimonious relationship” between the two men, assistant Privacy Commissioner Mike Flahive said police failed to take reasonable steps to ensure the security of the personal information.

    In a second breach, Mr Flahive wrote in his decision that Mr Beatson used the information for a purpose it was not intended for. […]

    The case has been referred to the director of the Human Rights Proceedings, who may take a case before the Human Rights Review Tribunal.

    Police have not revealed what disciplinary action was taken against Mr Beatson.

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