17jan photo studio breaches privacy act hero
20 January 2017

Photo studio breaches Privacy Act

Photos of children used in ads without permission.

Shopping mall photography business Expression Sessions is in trouble on both sides of the Tasman.

New Zealand’s Privacy Commissioner John Edwards named the business following a complaint from a mother whose children’s photo was used in the company’s advertising. The woman had taken up the offer of a free photo shoot but then decided not to buy the photos. She was told the images would be destroyed. But two years later she saw a photo of her children in advertising material, including a large poster in a mall.

“Expression Sessions didn’t just omit details about how the photos would be used. It went as far as to explicitly say that the photos would be deleted, and then go on to print them on a poster,” Mr Edwards said.

Expression Sessions breached four Privacy Act principles. Mr Edwards said the business had stopped communicating with his office in the middle of last year but was still operating.

Before Christmas, Expression Sessions was ordered by the Australian Federal Court to pay A$1.1 million for pressuring vulnerable consumers into contracts containing unfair terms. It now has to write to everyone who bought photos between 2012 and 2014 and offer a refund.

Here, the Commerce Commission is investigating Expression Sessions and has received 23 complaints since January 2015.

“Our investigation is looking at issues relating to consumers’ right to cancel the contract and whether the company’s contracts comply with legal disclosure requirements,” a commission spokesperson said.

Member comments

Get access to comment