Two computer wholesalers are arguing over how personal details from an old database ended up being used by one in an online marketing campaign.
Aaron Martin, owner of Hastings-based Comtek Computer Solutions, says he received unsolicited email from Auckland-based wholesaler Azatech at an address he doesn't use any more.
"Before I started Comtek as a registered company, I traded under the name 'MM Computers'," Martin says. His only supplier then was Edge Computers, which became Computer Depot 2000 Ltd. He has since received emails from Azatech addressed to @comtek.co.nz addresses, but some have also arrived at his older address.
Martin contacted Computer Depot to find out whether the company had sold its email list. He says he was told the database had been stolen.
But Computer Depot manager Philip Dupreez says this was not the case and he can't explain how Martin's email address ended up in the hands of Azatech.
Azatech sales manager Daniel Ling says the only source of email addresses the company has used is UBD, an online business directory.
But Martin says he has not signed up with UBD and none of his email addresses are on the UBD website. The only listing the UBD site has for Comtek is for Comtek Systems, another company based in Morrinsville.
Ling has no explanation for Martin's email address being on Azatech's system and says the company has not bought any customer details from Computer Depot.
Gillian Reid, former president of the Computer Society, says even with the Privacy Act in place the ultimate responsibility for a user's details rests with the user.
"You've got to read the fine print. It may well be that hidden away in there is a clause that gives the company the right to sell or give away your details to another company."
Reid says even though the Privacy Act was introduced before such electronic invasions of privacy were commonplace, it does provide a good level of protection as long as users are aware of what they're agreeing to when they deal with a company.
"It's good enough to protect us but we have to know when it's being breached to do something about it."