A guest post by Rodney Hide:
Are your records safe with Xero?
Xero will hand out your personal and financial records.
Xero won’t tell you.
Xero staff will peek at your records.
That much we know from a court case this week. The case is my good friend Kristina Buxton and her two companies suing Xero for breach of privacy.
Kristina is the wife of my good friend Dave Henderson who was bankrupt at the time.
The Official Assignee was after Hendo and spent an estimated $2,500,000 chasing him including $700,000 on private investigators. At no time did the Official Assignee or the private investigators ask Hendo or Kristina for the information they sought.
The OA used her power and resources to interrogate people and organisations hoovering up truckloads of information, not just about Hendo but also his friends and associates including me.
The upshot were two sets of charges. The Crown withdrew the first set and stayed the second. Hendo is applying to have the stay lifted. Having been charged, he wants his day in court.
So no prosecution. No wrongdoing worth pursuing.
The Official Assignee initially asked Xero for Kristina’s username and login. Xero couldn’t do that but gave the OA a spreadsheet with 250,000 transactions on it. That was everything. Xero subsequently updated the spreadsheet. The spreadsheets included tens of thousands of deeply personal records over many years including medical bills and the like.
Xero never told Kristina about the request or their release. Indeed, Xero initially denied the release and only confessed when confronted with incontrovertible evidence.
And as for staff having a peek? Xero’s lawyer justified the dump by declaring to the court: “[Kristina’s] supermarket transactions seemed far too high to be personal”.
There was no court order. There was no legal demand [the OA’s power to gather information only relates to a bankrupt’s property, conduct or dealings].
Xero released a client’s entire financial history to the state simply upon being asked. We don’t know how often it happens. We can’t trust Xero’s assurances. Their initial response was to deny the dump.
The court case this week was preliminary. Xero is asking the court either to strike the claim out or to issue summary judgement.
Whatever the outcome, we now know the facts: Xero has released a client’s entire financial history to a government department that simply asked.