Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Nickey Hager: Ugly man, ugly invasion of his property

I’m surprised it’s taken so long for this story to become a thing.

In searching for the source of the data used in his book Dirty Politics, the police enlisted the aid of Hager’s bank, Westpac, who happily handed over to them all his private banking information including over 10 months of his banking transactions from all of his accounts. This was all handed over without a warrant.

The revelation Westpac handed over author Nicky Hager's bank records to the police - without so much as a by-your-leave from the courts - should send a shiver down the spine.
    It ought, too, to be a wake-up call to any other corporates out there who think their customers' records are fair game for any authority figure that comes knocking.
    They are not.
    Kudos to the likes of Spark, Vodafone, Air New Zealand, Jetstar and TradeMe for recognising that - and refusing a similar request from the police.
    In the case of Hager's records - sought when the police were trying to find who hacked blogger Cameron Slater's computer (providing the material for Hager's book
Dirty Politics) - there is more at stake than simply tracking down a potential criminal.

Yes, there is.

Leave aside for the moment that Hager himself publishes book based on illegal access to people’s private data (Whale Oil’s, Don Brash’s, Helen Clark’s, anyone you like really).

(And leave aside that Mr Whale Oil himself ended up in court for publishing a businessman’s illegal data.)

And leave aside if you can the fact Hager’s legal team calls this a “privacy breach.”

So the irony does go all the way down.

But there’s something very wrong with a bank handing over a person’s private banking information to the authorities without that person’s permission, without their knowledge and without the appropriate legal warrant.

Even if that person is Nicky Hager.

There’s something very wrong because to gain that information properly the authorities should provide a warrant—and I include in that number the Inland Revenue. The need to provide a warrant issued by a different branch of government, to whom the authorities requesting it must provide some proof of your culpability—is a small but valuable piece of due process providing all individuals some legal protection against abuse by the authorities of their authority.

It is not something that should be ignored. The more it is, the less protection we have.

And the fact is that small but valuable piece of due process has been ignored too much too recently—banks being required to hand over private information to the Inland Revenue without a warrant whenever Inland Revenue care to ask for it, and to the police whenever the bank thinks you might be handling too much of the folding stuff. So banks are probably so used to handing over to the authorities whatever is asked for and whenever they ask for it—and to give it up three bags full.

Doesn’t make it right.


  • “The broader concept which a so-called privacy right obscures is our legitimate property rights…”
    Privacy, Property and the #SurveillanceState
  • “The ‘right to privacy’ is a misguided attempt to save some shreds of certain [legitimate] rights while retaining a way to eviscerate others.”
    Some propositions on privacy
  • “In ‘the old days’ the need to obtain a search warrant was your protection against every state agency except the IRD. But we are now in a new age.”
    “The Moment of Truth”: Too many agendas
  • “’Politics is: the gutless in thrall to the clueless. Therein lies its real dirtiness, not in the machinations, grubby though they may be, revealed in equally grubby Nicky Hager’s latest dump of stolen e-mails’.”
    The Real Dirtiness in NZ Politics
  • “The #DirtyPolitics saga saw the commentariat almost immediately begin comparing John Key to their favourite modern-day bogeyman, Richard Nixon. The real connection is not so much dirty trick s or Judith Collins’s alleged enemies list; the real connection is ideology – or, to be precise, the lack of one.”
    The #1 reason for #dirtypolitics: the barrenness of the "centre-right"


  1. Yes, and Direct Debits give authority to the provider Company to extract what they like and when they like.
    I had this out with our friends at ASB, who were able to tell me my authority over bank account was 'limited'

    Watch for doubtful Companies which don't state soobviously , but have an ongoing policy of debiting your Account monthly.
    This goes for even big Companies like Adobe producing editing and film making programs.
    You have to go to a long search to withdraw yourself .
    And then there are the dating site Companies.
    Oh God how I love Anna the black haired Asian girl, but what an ongoing price to pay, how can I switch this thing off.

  2. I would like to outline that your point about Inland Revenue requiring a warrant in a similar scenario is misleading. The tax law states :
    "Every person (including any officer employed in or in connection with any department of the government or by any public authority, and any other public officer) shall, when required by the Commissioner, furnish in writing any information and produce for inspection any documents which the Commissioner considers necessary or relevant for any purpose relating to the administration or enforcement of any of the Inland Revenue Acts or for any purpose relating to the administration or enforcement of any matter arising from or connected with any other function lawfully conferred on the Commissioner."

  3. Anecdotally, I have heard that the police use bank account data (such as amount of money in the account, where the account owner has been spending their money recently) to predict who will commit an offense, where they will offend, and when they will offend. Reportedly the predictions are accurate to something like 99% if they have all the data, and if they really have that sort of data that level of accuracy would certainly be achievable.

    When I first heard this I thought it must be wrong, because it would require the police to get bank account data without a warrant or probable cause. But it seems they can do that. Scary stuff! It is wrong no matter who owns the account, even if it is Hager or some gangster with a list of convictions from here to Kaitaia.

  4. I expect you grant your bank permission to do this in the T&Cs that you agree to when you sign up. So, find a bank who provides a service without these conditions, and use them. Good libertarian solution to the problem.

    Still, it's amusing to see the hypocrisy of Hager squealing blue murder when his "privacy is invaded", legally, when he's such a scumbag himself doing the far worse to others for political gain. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.


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