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Review of Search and Surveillance Act underway

Hon Amy Adams

Minister of Justice
28 June 2016 Media Statement
Review of Search and Surveillance Act underway

Justice Minister Amy Adams has commenced a review of the Search and Surveillance Act to consider how the law is working in practice and what changes may be desirable.

The statutory review is required under the Act, which specifies that a joint review by the Ministry of Justice and the Law Commission must be underway by 30 June 2016.

“The Search and Surveillance Act governs what powers Police and other government agencies have to search people or property to investigate and prosecute crime,” Ms Adams says.

“It also outlines what authorities can and can’t do when exercising those powers, including what they must do to protect the rights and privacy of New Zealanders.

“The review will consider how the Act has operated since it came into force and whether any amendments should be made.

“In particular, the review will focus on the impact of recent developments in technology. Since the Act was drafted, technology and the way people use it has evolved. For example, smart devices, apps and social media now allow people to create, access and share huge amounts of information in an increasing variety of ways. Also, the use of cloud-based services has increased markedly.

“When investigating and prosecuting crime, this has changed the type of information that law enforcement agencies may need to access and can pose challenges to their ability to access it. When considering these issues, it’s important to take into account the potential implications for people’s privacy, as well as other rights the Act recognises.

“The review will also look at any issues courts may have highlighted and how other countries are resolving legal questions about search and surveillance powers,” Ms Adams says.

The Law Commission and Ministry of Justice will seek public submissions later in the year and a final report is due on 28 June 2017.


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