New Zealand Law Society - Review looks at SIS handling of privileged communications

Review looks at SIS handling of privileged communications

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The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Cheryl Gwyn, has released a report on her review of the New Zealand Security and Intelligence Service's handling of New Zealanders' privileged communications and privileged information.

The review considered the extent to which the NZSIS's handling of privileged material complied with legal requirements.

The New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Act 1969 and Intelligence and Security Act 2017 provisions were considered, along with applicable common law. Ms Gwyn also reviewed 19 Service policies, procedures, templates, associated documents and training modules.

She says her general finding was that the SIS was and is very conscious of the need not to obtain the privileged communications and privileged information of New Zealanders, in activities carried out under a warrant.

"It is those Service activities, in the process of executing a warrant, where the risk of obtaining such privileged material is most likely to arise."

Ms Gwyn says she found there were areas where the Service's policies needed more information and/or more clarity, particularly with respect to its obligations when carrying out activities where a warrant is not required and in areas where there is no express statutory provision governing the activity.

"My overall observation is that a more rigorously preventative approach should be taken to ensuring that, by whatever processes communications and information might be obtained, the Service minimises the risk of obtaining, retaining and using the privileged material of New Zealanders."