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Search and Surveillance Bill more balanced

Search and Surveillance Bill balance seen as more appropriate

The New Zealand Law Society says changes made to the Search and Surveillance Bill strike a more appropriate balance between effective enforcement and privacy interests.

However, the Society still has some concerns with powers granted to regulatory agencies by the Bill.

In a submission on the Justice and Electoral select committee’s interim report into the Bill, the Society notes that new search or surveillance powers granted by the Bill need to be justified on their merits if the enforcement framework is to retain public confidence and support.

The Society pointed to concerns in relation to two new search powers: the power of a regulatory agency to use force when carrying out an administrative inspection, and the power of an official to seize property in plain view without a warrant. In both cases, Society spokesperson Andy Nicholls says, the case for the new powers has not been demonstrated. These powers are not core to the Bill and should be removed and made the subject of a separate policy process.

The Society also raised a concern with the proposal to make the power to use tracking devices widely available. The view of the Ministry of Justice that tracking the movement of somebody is not as intrusive as other forms of surveillance is not correct when the tracking is conducted over an extended period, says Mr Nicholls. Extended use of tracking devices should only be available in relation to serious offending.


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