NZ no longer at Interpol cybercrime facility

But the first annual report on New Zealand's cyber security strategy reveals police no longer...
But the first annual report on New Zealand's cyber security strategy reveals police no longer have a presence at the facility "due to resource constraints". Photo: Reuters

New Zealand no longer has a presence at a major Interpol facility fighting cybercrime because of a lack of funding.

That's despite the Government rolling out a new cybercrime strategy and warning that more than 856,000 Kiwis are affected by digital crime each year - at an estimated cost to New Zealand of more than $250 million.

All 190 Interpol member states were invited to send representatives to the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI), a cutting-edge research and investigative centre in Singapore.

New Zealand Police sent Detective Senior Sergeant Steve Honiss, the manager of its cyber crime centre, on a two-year pilot to act as a digital crime officer, with responsibility for capacity building, training and engagement with industry.

In a press release before his deployment Det Snr Sgt Honiss said his being in Singapore was "about recognising that the only way we can make inroads into the growing challenge of cybercrime is by working with other law enforcement agencies and with industry".

But the first annual report on New Zealand's cyber security strategy reveals police no longer have a presence at the facility "due to resource constraints".

Communications Minister Simon Bridges said when the pilot ended in the middle of last year it was considered that work at the IGCI had been beneficial in linking New Zealand's efforts up with other countries in the region.

"However this could be fulfilled through alternative offshore arrangements," Mr Bridges said.

"NZ Police continues to maintain its links with the Interpol Complex for Global Innovation in Singapore, despite the end of the secondment. In addition, NZ Police has strong relationships with a range of international organisations and law enforcement counterparts in other countries in order to address cybercrime."

Labour's police spokesman Stuart Nash said New Zealand was trying to develop its economy around innovation and technology.

"From our largest company of Fonterra through to other global companies like Xero, down to some of the smaller high tech companies and organisations, we need to ensure that our country is protected as much as possible from cyber criminals.

"To say we haven't got the resources to do this beggars belief."

Barry Brailey, chair of the New Zealand Internet Taskforce, said it was unfortunate New Zealand no longer had a person seconded to the centre.

"But also understandable, because it's not cheap to maintain overseas representations in expensive economies like Singapore."

Mr Bridges said other agencies were using international links to help protect New Zealanders against cybercrime, including the Government Communications Security Centre (GCSB)'s National Cyber Security Centre.

Last year the Government pledged $22m to set up a Computer Emergency Response Team (Cert), which will receive incident reports, track incidents and cyber-attacks, and provide advice and alerts on how to respond to and prevent attacks.

It will open next month, and Mr Bridges said it will collaborate with similar organisations in other countries.

New police powers over computer data?
Law enforcement agencies could get beefed-up powers to force internet service providers to preserve computer data while a warrant or order to access that data is sought.

The Ministry of Justice and the Law Commission are jointly reviewing the Search and Surveillance Act and are due to report to Justice Minister Amy Adams by the end of June.

The annual report of the cyber security strategy notes the outcome of this review could be relevant in New Zealand's decision on signing up to the Budapest Convention, also known as the Council of Europe's Convention on Cybercrime.

Currently a major barrier to New Zealand joining is the requirement for countries to let law enforcement agencies order the preservation of computer data for up to 90 days.

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