NZ Customs requiring passwords

AR Andrew Reitemeyer Public Seen by 201

New Zealand customs is asking for the power to require passengers to reveal passwords for their digital devices. As can be seen from visitors to the Dotcom mansion knowing the wrong people can be a reason to ask for a password. I think PPNZ should make a submission to the public consultation process objecting to this.
First I think we should have a policy that states that even though it is a fundamental Pirate principles.

The discussion paper can be seen here


Craig Magee Thu 5 Mar 2015 1:22AM

What grounds are there for refusal? It's not unlike a traveller with a lock on their bag being expected to to provide a key.


Hubat McJuhes Thu 5 Mar 2015 7:39PM

I agree with the need to object. Digital mobile devices are nowadays storing the most private information of a particular person and also of others. Privacy is to be protected, also when travelling.


Hubat McJuhes Thu 5 Mar 2015 7:55PM

@craigmagee Yes, it is.
If scanning a bag suggests that some danger stems from thsi bag (e.g. bomb or gas lighter, etc.) or undeclared goods may be shipped in them (20 bottles of Scotch), or - heaven forbid - some foreign fruit may compromise our bio security, then it is more than sensible to have the bag opened and the situation clarified as it is the most genuine duty of customs to ensure safety and raising appropriate fees.

The password on a smartphone is therefore much more comparable with a padlock on your diary rather than on a bag.

Can you please tell me what kind of harmful or undeclared items customs is supposed to find on a digital device?


Craig Magee Thu 5 Mar 2015 8:37PM

  • Importation of objectionable media
  • Importation of copyright infringing media
  • Immigration concerns

Digital mobile devices store private information: that's the reason customs need access. Someone who comes to the attention of customs while attempting to enter the country would be expected to unlock their diary.


Hubat McJuhes Fri 6 Mar 2015 8:00AM

@craigmagee None of those aspects justifies such a heavy weighing violation of personal rights.

Mentioning copyright infringing media is a joke in itself. If you are serious about copyright infringing media being important enough to imprison people for not actively helping in the investigation, then you should ask yourself if you are in the right party.
That aside: how would customs be able to differentiate between copyright infringing media and media that are rightfully copied to the device, e.g. a completely legal copy of my own genuinely bought CD? Or do you say that I have to take my physical CD shelf with me on any journey only to proof that I am legally listening to my favourite tracks during a 36 hr journey to Europe?


Craig Magee Fri 6 Mar 2015 9:41AM

Fine, ignore that if you like.
Explain why customs shouldn't be able to verify travel and work plans of people entering the country with the information in their possession.


Hubat McJuhes Fri 6 Mar 2015 9:56AM

I did already. I have pointed out that customs have all rights to
ensure safety and no undeclared goods are taken in. And I have
expressed my disapproval to ignore civil rights in favour of any
secondary objectives. It is now up to you to deliver new arguments.


Craig Magee Fri 6 Mar 2015 10:09AM

Customs have the right to search someone's belongings, read any documentation they have, and question their identity or reason for entering the country.
Privacy is not a reasonable expectation for anyone entering any country. Allowing information in electronic form to circumvent customs will lead to people transferring information in electronic form to subvert customs.

A submission that defines terms and conditions for customs to demand passwords and encryption-keys has the potential to be constructive and influential. Harping on about 'privacy' and 'civil rights' in non-meaningful ways is a waste of time and makes fools of the submitters.


Hubat McJuhes Fri 6 Mar 2015 10:31AM

@craigmagee I disagree wholeheartedly with everything you said above. I don't think customs currently have that right and I am absolutely certain they should not have those rights. I believe that all governmental agencies at all times have to act in due course and should never exercise any rights without measure.

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