web analytics

NRT: Watching the state

Written By: - Date published: 1:00 pm, July 16th, 2015 - 12 comments
Categories: human rights, law, police - Tags: , ,

I/S at No Right Turn

Watching the state

Back in March, the Herald reported that the police were routinely demanding personal information from New Zealand companies – and receiving it – without any form of warrant or statutory authorisation. Now, the Privacy Commissioner has started tracking these demands:

The number of times agencies such as the Police and Inland Revenue receive personal data from a range of companies is to be revealed.

Companies that hand over the information – often without a warrant or the knowledge of the customer – will now be asked to provide a record of requests to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, which will publish a record.


Mr Edwards said his office has been working on a pilot transparency reporting project, and had found an initial group of agencies and stakeholders generally supportive.

“This year we intend to trial asking companies to keep a standardised record of requests for information from law enforcement agencies and to report this information to us. We will then publish this information.”

But while this is good news, and it will give some idea of who the police’s biggest targets are, it seems like a clumsy way to gather this information. Why not go to the source and ask the police? The obvious conclusion is because they have refused to cooperate. Secondly, while its great to have data on these demands for information, its not enough. To point out two examples, police can demand extremely intrusive personal information, such as phone and internet metadata, or even the content of messages themselves, using a production order, while Customs can seize your phone or laptop at the border, snarf its contents, and go through literally every aspect of your life. And neither even bothers to count how often these powers are used, let alone keep statistics on who they target and how often such searches are successful. If the Privacy Commissioner wants to start keeping tabs on state invasions of privacy, tracking the use of these two search powers would be a great start.

12 comments on “NRT: Watching the state ”

  1. adam 1

    Ahhh, the NZ police – Hand puppets for their Tory masters – since – well, forever.

    In some ways, it is the same old, same old from the police and their Tory masters. They been doing this type of invasion of opponents lives, ever working people went.

    “Do we really need to put up with is shit?”

    And the good news folks, us working people have been saying that for a very, very long time. All we need to do is raise our voices again – and the police and their Tory scum pay masters will roll over.

    Why do you think they do this stuff? They are scared of you! They are scared you will start working together to over throw their corrupt, moral bereft edifice. They are scared, that you will wake up one morning and go.

    “I don’t really have to put up with this shit”

  2. Richard Christie 2

    Bodies receiving such requests ought to refuse them and then immediately inform the target of the request made for their data. That ought to get the police to desist from making illegal requests and making illegal threats.

    Any company advertising such a policy would enjoy my custom as a matter of principle.

  3. McFlock 3

    I’m curious as to why handing over personal data isn’t illegal, at least under the privacy act.

    If the cops have enough grounds to compell the supply of the information, cool – maybe we just need to upgrade the systems so that the production orders and warrants are processed and served in a timely manner.

    But if a police officer is requesting personal data from a telco, what protections are there that the data is being informally requested for legitimate purposes?

    What auditing is done on the data to ensure that each informal request pertains to a specific case?

    What controls are in place to ensure that the data isn’t copied or distributed to a third party, even if it’s part of a legitimate investigation?

    • JeevesPOnzi 3.1

      Cops will just make up the grounds to compel surrender of data- like with N Hager.

      There are no protections of your info because once you share it with the Telco/Westpac/Ware-whare etc it is no longer yours- any more than the money in your bank account is yours. Its not.

    • RJL 3.2

      It’s legal for information to be disclosed under the privacy act if the agency holding the information reasonably believes that “that non-compliance [with the privacy act] is necessary … to avoid prejudice to the maintenance of the law…” (principle 11)

      The police are apparently quoting this section of the privacy act as an enabler for them to freely request information held by companies. It probably is “reasonable” for companies to comply with these requests — as it is “reasonable” to believe the police when they tell you what their powers are and what the consequences for non-compliance are. The problem seems to be that the police are arguably bullshitting.

      “What controls are in place to ensure that the data isn’t copied or distributed to a third party, even if it’s part of a legitimate investigation?”

      If the police somehow obtain private information about an individual the police themselves then have to follow the rules in the privacy act as to what they can do with that information. The police meet the definition of “an agency” in the privacy act.

      • McFlock 3.2.1

        I guess what I’m thinking is whether there is auditing in place to ensure that a police officer doesn’t piggy-back a personal or moonlighting data search onto an investigation.

        I know that would be illegal for the officer to do, but I’m more concerned with how it would be detected, especially if the requests were made over the phone after both parties got into a routine.

        Basically, if they got the metadata on 7 cellphones as part of a case, how would it be detected if an eigth cellhone was added to the request and deleted from the .csv sheet that becomes part of the case? Say if an officer wanted to know who his new GF was talking to?

        I guess my questions are basically towards the concept that trusting individuals with data is like trusting individuals with money: don’t. Even though most of them would be honest, good procedures ensure that the person is demonstrably innocent.

      • Richard Christie 3.2.2

        It probably is “reasonable” for companies to comply with these requests — as it is “reasonable” to believe the police when they tell you what their powers are and what the consequences for non-compliance are.

        And just as “reasonable” to believe otherwise.

        • RJL

          Not really. You’d be hard pressed to argue (in court say) that a company was acting unreasonably by believing a police description of police powers.

          Doesn’t mean that police description of their powers is actually correct, of course.

    • Anne 3.3

      What concerns me is the probability they’re collecting personal data on people that has no relevance whatsoever to the reason they are interested in them in the first place. For example, a protester standing quietly holding a placard and is in nobody’s way… hurls a few obscenities at a police officer who has just deliberately tripped him up for no reason other than he’s got a placard. So, the officer then decides to gather personal information on the protester to see if he can find anything he can hang on him. It’s happened many times I’m sure.

  4. rob 4

    I’m sure it happens alot more than the avg. public realise, even the diddles that say, comment that nothing to hide nothing to fear! one of the most stupid things to be ever said in this country since 2008!

  5. Sable 5

    Disgusting but not surprising. This country really doesn’t qualify as a democracy anymore.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Tokelau Language Week reminds us to stay united and strong
    Staying strong in the face of challenges and being true to our heritage and languages are key to preserving our cultural identity and wellbeing, is the focus of the 2020 Tokelau Language Week. Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio, says this year’s theme, ‘Apoapo tau foe, i nā tāfea ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 hours ago
  • NZ announces a third P-3 deployment in support of UN sanctions
    The Government has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea, announced Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “New Zealand has long supported ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Pacific trade and development agreement a reality
    Pacific regional trade and development agreement PACER Plus will enter into force in 60 days now that the required eight countries have ratified it. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker welcomed the announcement that the Cook Islands is the eighth nation to ratify this landmark agreement. “The agreement represents ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Securing a pipeline of teachers
    The Government is changing its approach to teacher recruitment as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue, by boosting a range of initiatives to get more Kiwis into teaching. “When we came into Government, we were faced with a teacher supply crisis,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “Over the past three years, we ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Border exceptions for a small number of international students with visas
    The Government has established a new category that will allow 250 international PhD and postgraduate students to enter New Zealand and continue their studies, in the latest set of border exceptions. “The health, safety and wellbeing of people in New Zealand remains the Government’s top priority. Tight border restrictions remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • First COVID-19 vaccine purchase agreement signed
    The Government has signed an agreement to purchase 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines – enough for 750,000 people – from Pfizer and BioNTech, subject to the vaccine successfully completing all clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand, say Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Health Minister Chris Hipkins. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • International statement – End-to-end encryption and public safety
    We, the undersigned, support strong encryption, which plays a crucial role in protecting personal data, privacy, intellectual property, trade secrets and cyber security.  It also serves a vital purpose in repressive states to protect journalists, human rights defenders and other vulnerable people, as stated in the 2017 resolution of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ministry of Defence Biodefence Assessment released
    The Ministry of Defence has today released a Defence Assessment examining Defence’s role across the spectrum of biological hazards and threats facing New Zealand. Biodefence: Preparing for a New Era of Biological Hazards and Threats looks at how the NZDF supports other agencies’ biodefence activities, and considers the context of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020
    New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020 Hon David Parker’s response following Thomas Piketty and Esther Duflo. Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, wherever in the world you might be. I first acknowledge the excellent thought provoking speeches of Thomas Piketty and Esther ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Kaipara Moana restoration takes next step
    A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed today at Waihāua Marae between the Crown, local iwi and councils to protect, restore and enhance the mauri of Kaipara Moana in Northland. Environment Minister David Parker signed the document on behalf of the Crown along with representatives from Ngā Maunga Whakahī, Ngāti ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand and Uruguay unite on reducing livestock production emissions
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Uruguayan Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries Carlos María Uriarte have welcomed the launch of a three-year project that will underpin sustainable livestock production in Uruguay, Argentina, and Costa Rica.  The project called ‘Innovation for pasture management’ is led by Uruguay’s National Institute of Agricultural ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 3100 jobs created through marae upgrades
    Hundreds of marae throughout the country will be upgraded through investments from the Provincial Growth Fund’s refocused post COVID-19 funding to create jobs and put money into the pockets of local tradespeople and businesses, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta have announced. “A total ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Health volunteers recognised in annual awards
    Health Minister Chris Hipkins has announced 9 teams and 14 individuals are the recipients of this year’s Minister of Health Volunteer Awards.  “The health volunteer awards celebrate and recognise the thousands of dedicated health sector volunteers who give many hours of their time to help other New Zealanders,” Mr Hipkins ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community COVID-19 Fund supports Pacific recovery
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says a total of 264 groups and individuals have successfully applied for the Pacific Aotearoa Community COVID-19 Recovery Fund, that will support Pacific communities drive their own COVID-19 recovery strategies, initiatives, and actions. “I am keen to see this Fund support Pacific ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community benefits from Māori apprenticeships
    Up to 50 Māori apprentices in Wellington will receive paid training to build houses for their local communities, thanks to a $2.75 million investment from the Māori Trades and Training Fund, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Ngāti Toa Rangatira Incorporated to provide its Ngā Kaimahi ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Training fund supports Māori jobseekers
    Rapidly growing sectors will benefit from a $990,000 Māori Trades and Training Fund investment which will see Wellington jobseekers supported into work, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Sapphire Consultants Ltd. to help up to 45 Māori jobseekers into paid training initiatives over two years through ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ruakura Inland Port development vital infrastructure for Waikato
    The Government is investing $40 million to develop an inland port at Ruakura which will become a freight super-hub and a future business, research and residential development for the Waikato, Urban Development and Transport Minister Phil Twyford, and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today. The funding has been has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Appointments made to Defence Expert Review Group
    Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today the establishment of an Expert Review Group to review a number of aspects of the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) structure, information management and record-keeping processes.  The Expert Review Group’s work arises out of the first recommendation from the Report of the Government’s Inquiry ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • No active community cases of COVID-19
    There are no active community cases of COVID-19 remaining in the country after the last people from the recent outbreak have recovered from the virus, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “This is a big milestone. New Zealanders have once again through their collective actions squashed the virus. The systems ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Clean energy upgrade for more public buildings
    More public buildings will be supported by the Government to upgrade to run on clean energy, the Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced today. Minister Shaw announced that Lincoln and Auckland universities will receive support through the Clean-Powered Public Service Fund to replace fossil fuel boilers. Southern, Taranaki, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Schools back donations scheme for the second year
    More schools have opted in to the donations scheme for 2021, compared to 2020 when the scheme was introduced. “The families of more than 447,000 students will be better off next year, with 94% of eligible schools and kura opting into the scheme,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “This is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Ruapehu cycle trails gets PGF boost
    The spectacular Mountains to Sea cycle trail in Ruapehu District will receive $4.6 million in funding from the Provincial Growth Fund for two additional trails, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. “This is an exciting development for the local community, and one that will provide significant economic opportunities ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago