Labour disagrees with ‘sloppy’ Customs changes

  • 20/05/2016
Labour disagrees with ‘sloppy’ Customs changes

Labour is worried about planned changes to give Customs officers the power to demand laptop and cellphone passwords from travellers.

Customs Minister Nicky Wagner on Thursday said the Government agrees with the idea in principle, but that further work needs to be done.

She's asked Customs to look at what the statutory threshold for carrying out inspections of electronic devices would be and how it would work in practice.

But Labour's Customs spokesman Rino Tirikatene thinks that's "sloppy law-making".

"We agree that customs officers should have the power to inspect digital devices, but Customs Minister Nicky Wagner is taking a dangerous approach," he said.

"The minister is asking Customs to design the threshold for inspecting digital devices. In effect, she's asking the very people who will be bound by the law to write it."

Mr Tirikatene said someone independent needs to draw up the law, given its impact on people's right to privacy.

"The test for any changes over how Customs operates is to ask whether it's going to make travelling and exporting easier and whether it's going to make the country safer.

"Nicky Wagner doesn't seem to be asking these questions," Mr Tirikatene said.

Ms Wagner also announced several other changes to border management which will streamline processes involving excise duties.

She's going to bring a bill to Parliament later this year, and wants her department to report on the password issue before then.