New Zealand privacy commissioner joins criticism of Facebook data handling


Facebook has come into spotlight over the past week over its handling of data from millions of users.
Facebook has come into spotlight over the past week over its handling of data from millions of users.PHOTO: AFP

WELLINGTON (REUTERS) - New Zealand's privacy commissioner joined international criticism against Facebook, saying on Wednesday (March 28) it has broken the law by declining a citizen access to personal information held on the accounts of other users.

In a statement, the commissioner said that after being notified of its complaint, Facebook responded that it did not have to comply with the body's demand for the information.

The commissioner "considers it necessary to publicly identify Facebook in order to highlight its demonstrated unwillingness to comply with the law, and to inform the New Zealand public of Facebook's position," the statement said.

Facebook did not respond immediately to an emailed request for comment.

The commissioner's statement said "the social media company said the Privacy Act did not apply to it and it did not have to comply with the Commissioner's request to review the information requested by the complainant." The commissioner said its powers beyond demanding information were limited.

Facebook has come into spotlight over the past week over its handling of data from millions of users.

Lawmakers in the United States and Europe are demanding to know more about the company's privacy practices after a whistleblower said consultancy Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed data to target US and British voters in elections.

Cambridge Analytica has said it did not use Facebook data in US President Donald Trump's campaign, and that it had deleted all Facebook data it obtained from a third-party app in 2014 after learning the information did not adhere to data protection rules.