A plan to reveal the number of times agencies such as the police request and receive personal data from a range of companies has been applauded by Trade Me.
The auction website and other companies that hand over information - often without a warrant or the knowledge of the customer - could now be asked to provide a record of requests to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC), which will publish a record.
Lawyers, privacy advocates and companies have concerns about the growth in government requests for company records and personal data.
Privacy Commissioner John Edwards said businesses increasingly hold a large amount of personal information that can be useful to the government's law enforcement and national security activities.
"Agencies such as the police, Inland Revenue, the Ministry of Social Development, and a host of others have powers to obtain information from corporations, about individuals, often without the knowledge of those involved," Mr Edwards said in a speech to an annual gathering of New Zealand's intelligence community.
"Transparency reporting, publishing reports of how often these requests or demands are made, and how many individuals are affected was initiated by Google, and others such as Facebook, Vodafone [and] Trade Me have followed suit."
A range of agencies have been citing Principle 11 of the Privacy Act to get people's personal details.
Of New Zealand companies, Trade Me is unusual in its public declaration of Principle 11 clause requests it receives. Police made warrantless requests for information on 1663 occasions in the year ending June 2014, while other government agencies made 641 requests. Jon Duffy, Trade Me's head of trust and safety, said it wanted more done to encourage government agencies to make responsible requests.
Police assistant commissioner Malcolm Burgess said: "While the Privacy Act can be used to access low level information, such as basic account details, higher level data must be obtained through a production order."
Dry martinis all round as spies converge
New Zealand's intelligence community invited media to its annual conference-and-cocktail gathering at Wellington's Rydges Hotel.
The invitation - albeit to only one session to interview speakers including Privacy Commissioner John Edwards and Human Rights Commissioner David Rutherford - is another step in a public relations effort to reassure Kiwis about intelligence activities.
A wide-ranging review headed by former Deputy Prime Minister Sir Michael Cullen and lawyer Dame Patsy Reddy is examining both the SIS and GCSB.
Mr Edwards told yesterday's conference the Five Eyes alliance created strong bonds between the operational agencies involved, but not so much among oversight agencies, including his.
"I am interested in exploring, with my colleague the Inspector-General, whether there would be benefits in formalising links between our counterparts in the alliance, and beyond."