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Privacy Act 1993 


Privacy Act and Bed & Breakfasts in New Zealand

Whether you conduct business online or offline, and regardless of how you collect the information, you have access to personal information about your guests.   The law makes it clear that it’s your responsibility as a business owner to make sure the information you collect is managed with respect.  The Act is currently being reformed and is sitting before Parliament and this page shall be updated again once the reforms are confirmed.  Further information about the reforms can be found:


General Data Protection Rules may also apply to you and you can see further information on this here

Who it applies to …

The existing Act covers government agencies, local councils, businesses, and individuals.   The privacy law doesn’t just apply to clients and customers – all personal information is covered, including information about employees.  All organisations are required to have a privacy officer to deal with privacy issues.

As the Privacy Act is a principle-based system, it is not enforceable in court. An aggrieved individual must make a complaint to the Privacy Commissioner alleging an “interference with privacy”. The Commissioner has no powers to fine or prosecute anyone or order an organisation to pay compensation.

The exception is Principle 6 (Access to personal information) which is enforceable in court if it relates to personal information held by a public sector agency.


Good Business Practice …

Every business is different and we each collect information and store and use that information in different ways.  You should have a privacy policy which should be published on your website and in your room compendium.  However, it is not simply enough to have a privacy policy – you should also ensure all information you collect is stored safely and securely. 

Your privacy policy should also cover all methods you collect information via, such as your website (including cookies), reservation system and any guest registration processes.  It should also cover how long any identifying information will be held.

New Zealand has different legislation to that of the European Union and you should also familiarise yourself with applicable General Data Protection Rules.

For a free template which you can modify to suit your business go to -


The Privacy Commissioner’s role …

The Privacy Commissioner provides advice and education on privacy, investigates complaints, evaluates new legislation that may impinge on an individual’s rights, reviews data-matching programs, and issues codes of practice.


The Privacy Act 1993 …

The Act deals with the collection and disclosure of personal information. It’s more about information privacy than other aspects of privacy.  The Act controls how “agencies” collect, use, disclose, store and give access to personal information.  Personal Information is defined as information about identifiable, living people.  Almost every person or organisation that holds personal information is an “agency”.

The Act has 12 principles that stipulate how information can be collected and used, and people’s rights to gain access to that information and ask for it to be corrected.  Not all of these principles will be relevant to bed and breakfasts but a good many are:

  • Principle 1: Purpose of collection of personal information - An agency may only collect personal information where it is needed to perform a function or activity of the agency.
  • Principle 2: Source of personal information - The agency must collect the information directly from the person concerned. There are exceptions: for example, where the person agrees otherwise, or where the information is publicly available.
  • Principle 3: Collection of information from subject - The agency must take all reasonable efforts to ensure the person is aware that the information is being collected, what it will be used for, the recipients of the information, whether the supply of the information is voluntary or mandatory, the consequences of not providing the information and the person’s rights of access to and correction of the information.
  • Principle 4: Manner of collection of personal information - Personal information must not be collected in an unlawful, unfair or intrusive fashion.
  • Principle 5: Storage and security of personal information - The agency must ensure the information is protected against loss, misuse, or unauthorised disclosure.
  • Principle 6: Access to personal information - Where the information can be readily retrieved, the individual is entitled to confirmation of whether the information is held, and to have access to it. There are exceptions, for example, where disclosure would prevent detection of a criminal offence, or would involve a breach of someone else’s privacy.
  • Principle 7: Correction of personal information - Individuals may request correction of information held. Where this is not agreed to by the agency, the individual may request that the information is tagged with a statement that the correction was sought and was refused.
  • Principle 8: Accuracy of personal information to be checked before use – The agency must not use the information without taking reasonable steps to ensure it is accurate, up-to-date, complete, relevant and not misleading.
  • Principle 9: Agency not to keep personal information for longer than necessary - The agency must not keep the information for any longer than it is needed for the purposes for which it was collected.
  • Principle 10: Limits on use of personal information - Information collected for one purpose must not be used for any other purpose. There are exceptions: for example, where the agency reasonably believes the individual has authorised the further use, or that the information was from a publicly available publication.
  • Principle 11: Limits on disclosure of personal information - The information must not be disclosed except in certain situations. These include where the disclosure is directly related to the purpose for which the information was collected, where the source of the information is a publicly available publication, and where the disclosure is authorised by the individual concerned.
  • Principle 12: Unique identifiers - An agency must not assign a unique identifier to an individual unless doing so is necessary for the agency to carry out its functions efficiently. Where doing so is necessary, agencies must not use a unique identifier that has been assigned to that individual by another agency (the only exception is for certain taxation purposes).

It’s important to note that information such as a telephone number, physical address or an email address is not necessarily “personal information” unless it’s linked to other information which enables an individual to become identifiable.

The Act will not directly apply if information is publicly available or it was collected for marketing purposes.


For further information visit:


Privacy Act

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