New Zealand Labour Party

Inspecting electronic devices a potential privacy threat

Labour is expressing concern for New Zealanders’ privacy rights as the Government signals Customs will have the power to inspect electronic devices coming across the border, says Labour’s Customs Spokesperson Rino Tirikatene.

“We agree that customs officers should have the power to inspect digital devices, but Customs Minister Nicky Wagner is taking a dangerous approach.

“The Minister is asking Customs to design the threshold for inspecting digital devices. In effect, she’s asking the very people who will be bound by the law to write it.

“This is sloppy law-making. We need someone who is independent to draw up the law, especially a law that’s going to impact on our right to privacy.

“We know from the dispute between Apple and the FBI that inspecting electronic devices is fraught. It’s not so simple as just asking for a passcode. In serious cases it’s going to involve cracking encryption. Is the Government ready for that?

“The test for any changes over how Customs operates is to ask whether it’s going to make travelling and exporting easier and whether it’s going to make the country safer.

“Nicky Wagner doesn’t seem to be asking these questions,” says Rino Tirikatene.