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Policeman fearful after address published

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 3/03/2017 Karen Sweeney

A Wellington police investigator was left fearful of his safety after he found Wellington City Council had published his home address and multiple phone numbers online.

The details were given as part of a submission on a council dog policy and were published in full on the council's website.

"Working for police and having to go to court was my major concerns - if someone was convicted and wanted to do damage to myself or my family, that's where my concern was," he told NZ Newswire, not wanting to be named in case further documents still exist.

The man is one of seven people to make complaints to the council in the last year about the extent of the information shared online, and to seek a redaction.

He's concerned other people may not be aware that their details are so readily available, having only stumbled across his own unintentionally.

The council does include a privacy statement on the submission form noting "all submissions (including name and contact details) are published".

The man admits he saw the disclaimer, but didn't realise the extent of the information that would be published.

"They publish name, full address, phone numbers, email," he said.

"It's too much information that's just been chucked out there willy-nilly."

And having it redacted did not prove a simple task.

First he was told it was an Office of Information Act requirement that all the details be published, but when he threatened to involve the Privacy Commissioner he was told the details could be redacted.

Checking to make sure that had been done he discovered the council staffer had only changed the text colour to white, so simply highlighting it made it readable.

After a further complaint the information was deleted completely.

A council spokeswoman told NZ Newswire redactions were considered on a case-by-case basis.

They have also updated their privacy statement after a number of requests for redactions.

"We consider we have been transparent at the time of collection but given the small number of individuals who have expressed concern about their personal information being disclosed on our website, we have removed their details and enhanced our privacy statement to specifically state that this information is published on our website as part of our consultation process," the spokeswoman said.

She admitted the initial redaction had been made in error and it was practice to delete information.

It's not a statutory requirement to publish the information online, but instead the council says it's a response to a "growing expectation" that business be done online.

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