An online search tool has been downloaded that allows tenants to view other properties their landlords own.
The creators of the whatdoesmylandlordown.org website said the move was taken after Deputy Privacy Commissioner Liz McPherson told them the tool was in breach of the Privacy Act.
The search tool at whatdoesmylandlordown.org has been replaced by a single blog where the group disagrees and helps challenge the commission.
“This decision rests entirely on the discretion of the Deputy Commissioner, and is based on a factual interpretation of the Privacy Act,” the authors wrote.
“It is clear to us that the deputy commissioner’s opinion was framed under pressure from landlords and property developers.”
A spokesperson for the Privacy Commission said that under the Privacy Act, agencies that collect and hold personal data have a duty to protect and comply with them to prevent harm to people.
A spokesman said: “Every New Zealander has a right to privacy, regardless of age or circumstances.
The website’s creators said MacPherson’s decision affected access to ownership information provided by Land Information New Zealand (LINZ).
“We have agreed to their consent to access proprietary information from LINZ for personal information,” said a spokesperson for the website’s developers.
“One of the requirements of that consent is that we comply with the Privacy Act 2020 when we use the information.
“When the deputy commissioner determined we had breached the law, her office notified LINZ and they have since breached our license agreement and revoked our access to the data.”
When asked whether the Privacy Commission had ordered the site to be taken down, a spokesperson for the commission said the matter was ongoing.
The Privacy Commissioner continues to discuss the privacy aspects involved with the website owners, LINZ and members of the public.
“Our office does not verify or comment on complaints about an agency.”
The tool’s creators have already responded to privacy complaints by hiding the names of people with fewer than 20 properties, and have created a form that allows users to hide their names from the registry if they want.
The creators also made the software behind the website open source in a recent blog post, so others can configure similar devices.
The website allowed users to search for their rental’s address, see the owners, and see what other properties they own.
Other paid tools provide similar and additional information when properties are purchased, including the owners’ names and prices paid.
The site’s editors pointed to Teranet, which offered similar insights, but the group was marketed to property owners, not renters.
Because of this, the creators said, Terran didn’t get the same scrutiny.
“This raises questions about whose interests the DPC is. [department of the privacy commissioner] It works in
The creators say the aim of the online search tool is to encourage renters.
The group claims hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders continue to live in cold, damp, moldy and otherwise unhealthy rentals.
“At the same time, the average rental price is at a high level, while the cost of living increases, sucking money from the poor,” the group wrote.
“Therefore, it has never been more important that we hold those who benefit from these situations accountable.
“Since successive governments did not help, we started WDMLO. [What Does My Landlord Own] As a tool to better interrogate tenants, journalists and activists and improve their immediate situation.
“The Deputy Commissioner’s decision shows a clear disregard for these conditions.”
The creators stated that they are renters and the Deputy Commissioner said that they do not have the funds to defend against the legal consequences that they may bring.
“We urge the Deputy Commissioner, the Commissioner and other relevant decision makers to rescind the decision.