Anyone who refuses can face prosecution and a fine of up to $NZ5,000 ($4,581). The law also gives agents the authority to copy any data on searched devices. Officials will also be able to retain devices and potentially confiscate them from travelers who refuse to allow a search at the border. The agents would search phones turned in flight mode, and their search would not include data stored in the cloud. The legislation requires officials to have “reasonable cause” to suspect somebody of having committed a crime before they can demand a search.”We’re not aware of any other country that has legislated for the potential of a penalty to be applied if people do not divulge their passwords,” Terry Brown, a Customs spokesman, said commenting.
The NZ Council for Civil Liberties described the new law as a “grave invasion of personal privacy.” “Modern smartphones contain a large amount of highly sensitive private information including emails, letters, medical records, personal photos, and very personal photos,” the group’s chairman Thomas Beagle said in a statement. In New Zealand as in many other countries, Customs officers were already legally permitted to search digital devices as they would luggage, and to seize devices for forensic examination if they were believed to contain evidence of criminal activity. The Customs and Excise Act 2018 will came into force this week.