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Computer snooping devices bug Ryall

Tony Ryall National Justice Spokesperson

17 November 2000

Computer snooping devices bug Ryall

National's Justice spokesman Tony Ryall says he has concerns about the Government's plans to install permanent listening devices at internet service providers - meaning any communication traffic can be tapped into by the police and security agencies at any time without a warrant.

Mr Ryall's concerns relate to the Crimes Amendment Bill (No6) which makes it a crime to hack a computer but allows exemptions for security agencies to intercept all electronic traffic. It expands the definition of what can be tapped to include email, pagers and faxes as well as telephones.

"While National supports the expansion of this definition, our concern is about the nature of the technical interface. Permanently hard wiring a device into internet service providers that can be activated at any time creates too much potential for a serious invasion of privacy.

"National supported sending the supplementary order paper to select committee but we will be looking for strong safeguards to be put in place. We want a guarantee that the privacy of New Zealanders will not be breached before we could agree to vote to pass this Bill into law.

"The Minister of Communications, Paul Swain, must give us an assurance that this will be a discreet, warrant-based system. The Minister would not confirm in the House that this is the case.

"Otherwise, we do not know how many people might sneak onto the system and breach people's privacy," Mr Ryall said.

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