Posted on: Oct 01, 2013

Man finds edited agency profile still available in Google

On 16 September 2013, the Privacy Commission issued the following Case Note:

A man was previously a client of a recruitment agency. One of the agency’s services was to provide an online profile for the man.  The profile contained extensive information about him, including his name, photo, physical description, qualifications and personal interests.  After a period of time, the man advised the agency he no longer wanted to use its services, and asked to have his profile removed.

The agency removed his name and photo from the online profile, and removed the link to his profile from its website. However, the rest of the profile was left online.

The man later found that the edited profile was available in Google when he searched his name.  The man raised concerns with the Privacy Commission that his personal information was still being used by the agency.

The Privacy Commissioner’s investigation

The complaint raised issues about retention and use of information. In particular, principle 9 of the Privacy Act states that an agency must not keep information for longer than is required for the purposes for which the information may lawfully be used.

Although the man’s name had been removed from the profile, the Privacy Commission was satisfied that it could still be considered to be personal information that identified him.  This was because of the detailed information retained on the profile, and because it was still being linked to him through Google’s search engine.

On this basis the Commission contacted the recruitment agency to let it know of the concern that this information was still available online, even though the man was no longer a client.  The agency accepted the Commission’s view and, as a result, completely removed the profile from its website.

The man was satisfied with this outcome and his complaint was closed on this basis.

Source: Privacy Commissioner

(Case Note 243548 [2013] NZ PrivCmr 3)


This article, and any information contained on our website is necessarily brief and general in nature, and should not be substituted for professional advice. You should always seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the matters addressed.