POAL’s Useful Idiot

A prominent blogger has leaked personal details about a Ports of Auckland worker’s employment records.

Clearly someone was outraged at this serf’s inflated sense of self-entitlement. How dare he object to the port’s plan to take away his livelihood!

We don’t know for certain who was behind the leaking of the information to the blogger, although it must have been someone within POAL. Who else would have access to these employee records? Whether these were the actions of a rogue employee or something more sinister remains to be seen.

There is plenty of speculation in the blogosphere about whether the blogger’s being paid to do POAL’s dirty work, but it is just as likely that such is his eagerness to garner media attention (regardless of the cost to himself or others) that no money needed to change hands. The blogger concerned has a history of using the internet to bully and abuse others, making him a particularly useful idiot for political and business groups who want to smear their opponents but don’t dare do so in their own names.

Whoever has leaked the information to the blogger has probably breached the Privacy Act. The fact that the person whose information was leaked was in the media making statements about his employer does not excuse any breach. There’s little point in anyone trying to argue that the leak was justified in order to counter what the worker said in the media. It is not a legal defence to the unauthorised release of personal information, and in any event it’s not especially clear how the information released counters anything said by the man. The man’s point is that he wants to keep his job and current conditions.

It’s less clear (to me anyway) whether the blogger concerned is also in breach of the Privacy Act for publishing the worker’s details, but I’m sure the thousands of media and privacy lawyers who routinely read my blog may have a view on that. The blogger probably hasn’t thought that far ahead, since his past actions would suggest he views himself as being above the law.

If this leak was perpetrated by someone senior within port management, then the organisation has big problems. If POAL management really thought leaking the personal details of a worker to an attack blogger would earn them some sort of victory in the ongoing media war over the dispute, then that would suggest they need to fire their current PR advisers.