Nicky Wagner needs to explain herself

Nicky Wagner as Customs Minister issued a press release on Friday regarding Customs and Excise Act amendments.

Buried in the middle of her release is mention of the contentious issue regarding accessing private computing devices at the border.

“The Government has agreed in principle that Customs needs to meet a statutory threshold before examining electronic devices.  We have asked Customs to do further work on what this would look like in practice and report back prior to introduction of the Bill.  The Government has also agreed in principle that, once the threshold is met, a person should have to assist Customs with the examination if asked.”

Which seems rather too broad for my liking, especially since Customs documents show that cabinet wanted a very, very broad definition and search and seizure regime in place.

customs 1 customs 2

I should have thought an active and current warrant should be the threshold not the trumped up suspicions of a customs offical who has profiled you and decided today is the day they have suspicions of people with pony-tails, or sleeve tattoos or whatever else they want to use to suddenly demand access to your devices.

It seems from the Minister’s press release that she is captured by her officials who have requested wide ranging powers that not even Police have. More concerning is that the Minister seems to have gone along with it and gotten cabinet approval along the way.

Her amorphous term “statutory threshold” should also be concerning considering they are talking about amendments to the Customs and Excise Act and therefore any provision handing these powers to Customs would meet “statutory threshold”.

As far as I am concerned the only statutory threshold should be a warrant, issued by a court. It is not acceptable for the threshold to be some sort of panty sniffing gut feel of a customs officer.

The Police have to get a warrant, SIS has to get a warrant, GCSB has to get a warrant. Customs should be the same.

I know other ministers have resisted this in the past, it’s a shame Nicky Wagner seems captured by her officials. It is this sort of dopey thinking that causes bad headlines and gifts free hits to the opposition.


– Customs

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

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