Privacy Principle 4 PDF92.88 KB (June 2011)
Please note: this practice note was written under the previous codes of broadcasting practice, which apply to programmes broadcast before 1 April 2016. While this practice note is still relevant to informing complainants and broadcasters about the approach the Authority is likely to take under the new codes, in the case of any inconsistency, the new codes will prevail. You can view the new codes here.
Under section 21(1)(e)(vii) of the Broadcasting Act 1989, the BSA is required to encourage the development and observance by broadcasters of codes of broadcasting practice in relation to the privacy of the individual. Each of the main broadcasting codes (Free-to-Air Television, Pay Television and Radio) contains a privacy standard, which operates in conjunction with the BSA’s eight privacy principles.1 The purpose of this Practice Note is to provide guidance to complainants and broadcasters about the usual way privacy principle 4 is interpreted by the BSA.
Privacy principle 4 states:
The protection of privacy includes the protection against the disclosure by the broadcaster, without consent, of the name and/or address and/or telephone number of an identifiable individual, in circumstances where the disclosure is highly offensive to an objective reasonable person.
The following summaries explain the BSA’s approach in its decisions on privacy principle 4 between 2006 and 2011.2
Disclosure must be highly offensive
Privacy principle 4 was developed to prevent the broadcast of a person’s details in circumstances where they are disclosed for the purposes of encouraging harassment of the person by members of the public.
The following were considered highly offensive disclosures:
The BSA found that the following disclosures were not highly offensive:
Extension of the principle to careless or negligent disclosures
In NJ and APNA Networks Ltd (2010-066), the BSA extended the scope of principle 4 to cover situations where the disclosure results in the harassment of an individual, due to the careless or negligent actions of a broadcaster. In this case, the broadcaster disclosed the complainant’s telephone number, without his permission, within a matchmaking programme which was designed specifically for the purpose of eliciting responses. The BSA upheld a breach of principle 4 on the basis that although the disclosure of the telephone number was not intended to result in harassment, harassment occurred as a foreseeable consequence of the broadcaster’s carelessness.
Disclosure of name and/or address and/or telephone number
In addition to name, address and telephone number, the BSA has also found that privacy principle 4 can apply to the disclosure of:
For further discussion of privacy as a broadcasting standard, see the BSA’s Practice Note, Privacy as a Broadcasting Standard (June 2010), and Dr Nicole Moreham, Private Matters: A Review of the Privacy Decisions of the Broadcasting Standards Authority (December 2009) at www.bsa.govt.nz.
Disclaimer: Nothing in this Practice Note binds the BSA in determining the outcome of any future complaint. Each complaint is determined on the particular facts surrounding a broadcast.
1The Codes and the privacy principles can be viewed on the BSA’s website, www.bsa.govt.nz
2Cited by name and decision number. All decisions are available on the BSA’s website, www.bsa.govt.nz
3See the BSA's earlier decision in Kirk and TVWorks, 2007-088, where it determined that principle 4 did not apply to the disclosure of email addresses, because such disclosure did not result in the same "potential harassment or physical threats at their place of residence".