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SIS To Report Publicly For First Time

Statement By The Privacy Commissioner On NZSIS (No 2) Bill

After 44 years of existence the NZ Security Intelligence Service will, for the very first time, produce an annual report next year. That is the recommendation of the Intelligence and Security Committee to Parliament.

I welcome the Committee's decision to require the SIS to produce an annual report on its activities. An edited version of the report will be tabled by the Prime Minister in Parliament each year. The Government and Opposition are to be congratulated on this notable step in Open Government.

I am pleased that my recommendation in respect of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Amendment (No 2) Bill for reporting has been accepted by the Committee. It is important to remember that in addition to more secret activities, the NZSIS undertakes vetting on hundreds of public servants and these and other non-sensitive activities ought to be fully accounted for.

As Privacy Commissioner I have repeatedly recommended enhancements to accountability mechanisms in respect of the work of intelligence organisations and the interception of private communications. As much of the work of the NZSIS must be carried out in secret it is sometimes difficult for normal accountability mechanisms to work in a completely open fashion. However, Parliamentary reporting is possible while taking into account the need for security.

Note for editors and reporters: 1. The new annual reporting requirement is set out in clause 4J of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Amendment (No 2) Bill as just reported from the Intelligence and Security Committee. 2. Copies of my report of 12 April 1999 on the bill can be obtained from my office or website.

BH Slane Privacy Commissioner

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