Harveys assures customers their personal files are private

By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY: Harvey Norman has responded to privacy concerns stemming from the conviction of a Perth police officer on child pornography charges. These charges were laid after employees at a Harvey Norman store found illegal images whilst servicing a computer brought in for repair.

The highlighting of Harvey Norman in this story raises concerns that employees trawl through personal data when servicing computers. This could include photos, media files and word documents.

Harvey Norman executive director John Slacksmith said today that employees servicing personal computers would only look through personal files if they were linked to the problem.

“If the consumer came into the store, and there was a fault they were having with the computer, and that fault may have been that there was a document or a photo or file that wouldn’t open up and they gave specific incidents of when they’ve tried and failed to open or modify that file, then of course the technician is going to go through and try to rectify that fault.

“Employees of franchisees know they will not be searching through or looking for information on [a] consumer’s personal PC because that’s the personal information of the consumer,” said Slacksmith.

Similarly, Harvey Norman business compliance manager, Merrick Davies has sought to assure customers that their personal files are off limits to staff.

“Franchisee staff responsible for computer repairs would not intentionally review files which are not specifically related to the problem,” said Davies.

Mr Davies continued to speculate on what may have lead to the aforementioned illegal images being found and, in turn, why some personal files may be accessed during the course of a servicing.

“The files in question may have been prominent in the customer’s system or part of the cause of the problem,” said Davies.

Where personal files are not prominent or part of the problem, both Slacksmith and Davies have assured Current.com.au that employees and technicians are bound by the Privacy Act and other franchisee agreements.

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