New Zealand Law Society - Search and Surveillance legislation review begins

Search and Surveillance legislation review begins

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Justice Minister Amy Adams has announced terms of reference for a review of the Search and Surveillance Act 2012.

The review will consider how the law is working in practice and what changes may be necessary or desirable.

The review is required under the Act, which specifies that a joint review by the Ministry of Justice and the Law Commission must be underway by 30 June 2016.

"The review will consider how the Act has operated since it came into force and whether any amendments should be made," Ms Adams says.

"In particular, the review will focus on the impact of recent developments in technology. Since the Act was drafted, technology and the way people use it has evolved. 

"For example, smart devices, apps and social media now allow people to create, access and share huge amounts of information in an increasing variety of ways. Also, the use of cloud-based services has increased markedly."

Ms Adams says the review will also look at any issues courts may have highlighted and how other countries are resolving legal questions about search and surveillance powers.

Law Commissioner Donna Buckingham says that the Act was drafted before cloud-based storage of data was commonplace. 

"In the light of these and other developments, the Commission will be examining whether the investigative powers in the Act are sufficient for law enforcement purposes. We will also consider whether the safeguards that surround those processes are adequate."

The Law Commission and Ministry of Justice will seek public submissions later in the year and a final report is due on 28 June 2017.