Thursday, March 05, 2015

Customs wants your data

So, in addition to the GCSB spying on you while you're on holiday, Customs now wants to poke through all the data on your phone or laptop when you come back:

Customs are seeking the power to require people to disclose passwords to their electronic devices when entering New Zealand.

Failing to do so without reasonable excuse should be an offence punishable with three months prison, it has suggested.

It said the power would be useful in helping detect objectionable material and evidence of other offending, such as drugs offences, as well as to verify people's travel plans.

Part of the policy, explained full here, is also an explicit power for them to poke through any electronic device at the border. But quite apart from a massive invasion of privacy for ordinary tourists, we already know that these questionably-legal powers are being used to circumvent police warrant requirements and for political surveillance. We also know that they're largely unsuccessful; while they don't keep proper records, of thousands of digital searches performed in 2012 (some fraction of the 0.2% of 4.8 million international arrivals whose baggage was searched), only 234 searches were "successful", and half of those were for copyright infringement. So, a massive invasion of privacy for very little gain, and the very definition of unreasonable search and seizure.

Rather than violating our rights in this way, Customs should do what every other agency has to do when searching our devices: get a warrant.