The Privacy Commissioner has slammed a photography business which told a mother they would delete photos they'd taken of her children - but used them in their promo material two years later.

The mother took the business, Expression Sessions, up on its offer of a free photo shoot for children at a shopping centre in 2014.

She decided not to purchase the photos and was told they would be deleted, but last year found them being used in various advertising material, including a large print poster in a mall.

The Privacy Commissioner, John Edwards, found this breached four principles of the Privacy Act.


"Expression Sessions misled this woman about almost everything - how long the photos would be stored, who would see them, and even why they were taking them in the first place," he said in a decision released today.

"I take a dim view towards agencies being so cavalier with personal information.

"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."

The principals breached regarded the failure to say how information (the photo) would be used, the collection of information in unlawful or unfair ways, failing to delete then information when it was no longer needed, and using information for a purpose other than why it was collected.

Expression Sessions stopped communicating with the Privacy Commissioner's office halfway through its investigation last year.

"Agencies that breach peoples' privacy should take steps to make it right," Edwards said.

"At a minimum, this includes engaging with my office's investigations by answering questions and providing relevant information. Expression Sessions did not do this."

Edwards said the office chose to name the firm to warn consumers of its unlawful practices regarding the use of personal information.

Expression Sessions could not be reached for comment.