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NZSIS welcomes the Inspector-General’s report

Friday 14 December 2018

The New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) welcomes the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security’s report relating to requests made to financial services providers.

The report looks at a snapshot of three months and captured 13 case studies in 2016/17 before the NZSIS’s new legislation came into force. NZSIS accepts the recommendations, and has either implemented them or are working on completing them.

“NZSIS values the constructive working relationship we have with financial service providers. We couldn’t do our work to protect New Zealand’s national security without the assistance we receive,” Director-General of Security Rebecca Kitteridge said.

“The issues identified in the report are historical and relate to cases where the NZSIS was pursuing its functions in respect of matters relevant to New Zealand security. The responses provided by the financial service providers gave valuable information and informed a range of security investigations and operations.

“Until recently NZSIS was exempted from most of the information privacy principles in the Privacy Act. The exemption meant that personal information could be disclosed to NZSIS by another agency, such as a financial institution, without breaching the Privacy Act. This position has been confirmed by the Privacy Commissioner.

“At almost exactly the same time a Supreme Court decision in 2017 clarified the legal position, the Intelligence and Security Act 2017 (ISA) was enacted.

“The process by which NZSIS can obtain information for the purposes of NZSIS’s national security functions has been addressed through implementation of the ISA.

“The ISA provides a sound and transparent mechanism, the Business Records Approval and Directions regime, by which NZSIS can compel companies to provide information for the purposes of NZSIS’s national security functions.

“The NZSIS has undertaken a significant amount of work to implement the ISA, and I welcome the Inspector-General’s recognition of this work in her report. The Inspector-General has acknowledged that improvements in terms of the legal issues identified in her report are already visible.

“I also welcome the Inspector-General’s positive comments in this report about the way the NZSIS has worked with her in regard to this matter, noting that she had an open and constructive discussion with the NZSIS about all the matters covered by this report. She added that it was to the NZSIS’s credit that it has been willing to reconsider its position on matters, discuss developing policies, and make change to many of its processes as this report has progressed.

“Our work must often be carried out in secret, but I am a big believer in transparency where possible. It is worth noting that for the first time our 2018 Annual Report will also state how many Business Record Directions we have issued to financial services providers, as well as telecommunication network operators.”

A copy of the report titled: Review of NZSIS requests made without warrants to financial services providers is available on the Inspector-General’s website here.

Notes to Editors
The NZSIS accepts the three recommendations made in the report. Below is further information about the work either underway or already completed.

• NZSIS is currently maintaining records of all requests made to financial institutions and has recently implemented changes to further facilitate oversight of these requests.

• NZSIS is committed to ensuring personal information is appropriately protected and held in accordance with public record keeping requirements. NZSIS has sought advice from the Privacy Commissioner and Chief Archivist as recommended by the Inspector-General, and will continue to engage with the Inspector-General throughout this process.

• NZSIS is reviewing its existing policies and procedures with the intention to update these or develop a new document to provide further guidance to staff on the various collection mechanisms.


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