Demanding smartphone and laptop passwords at the border is unacceptable

Insisting people give up their laptop and smartphone passwords at the border, without a search warrant or due process, is completely unacceptable and goes against common perceptions of privacy, the Green Party said today in response to a discussion document released by the New Zealand Customs Service.

Insisting people give up their laptop and smartphone passwords at the border, without a search warrant or due process, is completely unacceptable and goes against common perceptions of privacy, the Green Party said today in response to a discussion document released by the New Zealand Customs Service.

“These proposed new powers are unnecessary and an affront to Kiwis’ privacy,” Green Party Information and Communications Technology spokesperson Gareth Hughes said.

“Customs can already access travellers’ electronic devices if they get a warrant, such as for anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism purposes or other suspected criminal activities.

“There needs to be a clear threshold and due process for law enforcement agencies accessing private electronic devices. No agency should be able to demand access to private information without a very good reason.

“The Green Party has always pushed for the Government to update New Zealand’s laws for the digital age, but this proposal from Customs shows exactly why this needs to be coordinated by a Government Chief Technology Officer and Internet Rights Commissioner.

“The Green Party’s Internet Rights and Freedoms Bill would ensure cross-government leadership achieves the appropriate balance between privacy and security, to avoid agencies like Customs going overboard and saying they want everyone’s passwords.

“It’s disturbing that at the same time that we find out that our Government has been spying on our Pacific neighbours, the Government also announces it wants to be able to look at everyone’s private information when they enter New Zealand without a due process or threshold to determine if that person is even likely to be hiding anything”, said Mr Hughes.

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