No more risk to privacy on Facebook, than web: MED

Ministry of Economic Development says its Facebook account offers the same access to Companies Office records

The Ministry of Economic Development sees no additional risk to users’ privacy or risk of fraud or forgery from providing access to Companies Office records via Facebook.

When Computerworld reported on a survey from the Privacy Commissioner’s office indicating increasing public concern over privacy online, a stream of comment erupted on our website over the Facebook/Companies Office interface.

“Government, by means of the Companies Office, publishes all details of company directors including their signatures on Facebook,” says one anonymous commentator. “If you want to be John Key, Google for five minutes and you have his signature. David Parker’s took me two minutes. So don’t worry about privacy by businesses, worry about the idiotic government officials publishing all your details online, so that anyone can do identity fraud.”

An MED spokesperson says the Facebook account offers no more access to Companies Office records than anyone could get through the office’s own website.

“The Companies Office has a policy of making sure its database is transparent and can be accessed widely. By integrating its database with Facebook, users of that website will be able to conduct register searches easily and ensure the register makes use of innovative channels,” the spokesperson says.

Furthermore there is a legal requirement to make the information available. “All documents delivered to the Registrar of Companies for registration under the Companies Act 1993 must be put on the companies register and made available to the public,” MED says.

“The documents which are filed in relation to a company include scanned documents with signatures, for example a director’s consent form.”

The Facebook interface, developed by Christchurch-based digital agency Hairy Lemon, has been available for about a year.

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