Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Act requires companies to pass on NZers' info

20 October 2004

US Patriot Act requires companies to pass on NZers' info

Green MP Keith Locke says he will write to the Privacy Commissioner to ask her to investigate the actions of United States companies operating in New Zealand that are applying American, rather than our, laws and policies.

"The case reported today of Aucklander Mohammad Abbas, whose urgent money transfer to India was delayed for a month by Western Union because his name matched that of a suspect on an American watch list, is another example of George W. Bush's 'war on terror' compromising our interests," said Mr Locke, the Green Party's Foreign Affairs Spokesperson.

"The experience of Mr Abbas, an innocent man, is a scandal. 'Mohammad Abbas' is a common name so such overzealous enforcement of the US watchlist is potentially affecting people in several countries. A similar name is on New Zealand's list of international terrorist suspects, but if Western Union had any suspicions they should have gone directly to the New Zealand Police, not sent the information to the US.

"Mr Abbas's problem with Western Union is a confirmed example of a US subsidiary sending personal information on New Zealanders back to the US, but it is unlikely to be the only time it has happened.

"Earlier this year I asked several written questions of our Ministers about whether the US Patriot Act was enabling private information on New Zealanders to pass to the American government.

"American computer company EDS has contracts with several New Zealand Government departments, under which they are specifically prohibited from transferring information overseas without a special exemption. But under the US Patriot Act, EDS is required to share requested New Zealand-sourced information with US Government agencies and is forbidden from telling our government that it is doing so."

Mr Locke's questions to Ministers revealed that the records of our Corrections, Justice, Immigration, Police and Social Development (including Work and Income) departments are all accessible by EDS (the company also has the contract for IRD but cannot access the data). None of the Ministers concerned had received any advice on the privacy implications for New Zealanders of the US Patriot Act.

"In Canada the possibility that the US Government is getting access to their citizen's private information has triggered an investigation by the Privacy Commissioner in British Columbia. We should be following their example," said Mr Locke.

"US subsidiaries such as Western Union and EDS should be told that if it wants to operate in NZ it should act according to our laws. And Western Union should not be allowed to implement a US security dragnet that is seriously inconveniencing innocent New Zealanders," said Mr Locke.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On Why New Zealand Needs To Change Its Defence Habits

In a flashback to the military displays of days gone by, one of our frigates recently joined a Carrier Strike show of force in the South China Sea, en route to a joint military exercise in Singapore with our traditional allies, called BersamaGold21. Reportedly, Anna Powles, from the Centre of Defence and Security Studies at Massey University felt this to be a case of us doing our bit to uphold international law, and the right of free transit through the region in question... More>>

Government: New COVID-19 Protection Framework Delivers Greater Freedoms For Vaccinated New Zealanders

Vaccinated New Zealanders will regain everyday freedoms when the country moves to a new simplified COVID-19 Protection Framework that doesn’t rely on nationwide lockdowns as the main measure to stop the virus spreading. In a suite of announcements that establish a pathway out of restrictions the Government is also providing up to $940 million per fortnight to support businesses through the challenging period... More>>



Government: Responds To Independent Review Into WorkSafe

The Government has clear expectations that WorkSafe must action the recommendations of the independent review into the regulator to improve its management of adventure activities following the tragedy at Whakaari White Island, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood says... More>>

Government: New Zealand Secures Historic Free Trade Deal With The United Kingdom
New Zealand and the United Kingdom have agreed in principle the details of a historic Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which will further accelerate our COVID-19 economic recovery say Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister for Trade and Export Growth Damien O’Connor... More>>


Ombudsman: Launches Investigation Into MIQ Booking System
The Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier is launching a broad investigation into the Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) booking system after receiving hundreds of complaints... More>>


Pay Cheque To Pay Cheque: Half A Million New Zealanders Have No Savings
New findings from the Consumer NZ sentiment tracker found that 15% of New Zealanders had no savings, and a further 27% were anxious about their level of savings and would like to have more tucked away... More>>

Government: Mandatory Vaccination For Two Workforces

Large parts of two workforces critical to preventing the spread of COVID-19 will be required to be vaccinated, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “Our education and health and disability workforces have done an incredible job throughout this pandemic to keep themselves and people safe,” Chris Hipkins said.... More>>

Green Party: Deeply Concerned Space Launches May Be Breaching Nuclear-free Laws

The Green Party is deeply concerned that space launches by Rocket Lab may be breaching nuclear-free laws, given our long-standing position as a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty... More>>




InfoPages News Channels