New Zealand Post under fire for recording audio of postie drivers

New Zealand Post will no longer audio record its postie drivers who drive delivery vehicles after a ruling by the Privacy Commissioner. 

The company previously stopped the recordings, after the Postal Workers Union laid a formal complaint, saying New Zealand Post breached privacy. 

The Privacy Commissioner has backed the union's claim, and has released the results of a subsequent investigation into the claims. 

"An NZ Post delivery agent complained to us about audio recordings made by cameras installed on 'Paxster' electric delivery vehicles," said the Office of the Privacy Commissioner in a statement.

"His team leader had confronted him about phone calls he had made during his mail run and conversations he had had with members of the public. 

"He was shocked and upset as he was unaware that the cameras had an audio capacity."

Postal Workers Union spokesperson John Maynard says the decision is major.

"With so much recording going around, it was really important to take this case and get established that people who are working are entitled to privacy," he told Newshub. 

He said there would likely be other cases where people are being recorded in vehicles without their knowledge. 

The breach of the Privacy Act came from the fact the cameras were recording personal conversations. 

But New Zealand Post says it has not used the audio function since August last year, and that it has no plans to turn it back on. 

The company also claims the audio recordings were useful when investigating accidents that may have happened during the time of a delivery. 

However, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner is not convinced the recordings were required for safety purposes. It says thousands of hours of recordings were collected, and yet there were "relatively few accidents". 

"It was not clear that the audio recordings would prevent accidents from happening or provide information that would lead to changes in safety policies," the Privacy Commissioner said. 

"The delivery agents spend a considerable amount of time in the Paxster vehicles and it would be unsettling for them, and unreasonably intrusive, to record audio during the entire time a Paxster is being driven."

Newshub.