Privacy and security not incompatible

Armed police outside the Al Huda Mosque in Clyde St this morning. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Armed police outside the Al Huda Mosque in Clyde St, Dunedin. Photo: Stephen Jaquiery
Current privacy rules should not be an obstacle to security services finding other extremists such as the man accused of carrying out the Christchurch terrorist attack, Privacy Commissioner John Edwards says.

"I wouldn't have thought so," Mr Edwards said. "The privacy framework is enabling as well as providing for appropriate oversight and accountability.

"There is also the ability for intelligence gathering to be undertaken from open source systems - you don't need a warrant to sit in a chatroom."

Mr Edwards said he would be involved in the upcoming review of security services, and his office would also scrutinise any legislation the Government might propose which raised possible privacy concerns.

Security services were reviewed as recently as 2016.

Privacy issues in that area had been recently considered, but it was worth reconsidering whether safeguards and regulations were fit for current purpose, he said.

"I will help ensure that any response is proportionate. There is a really nice saying, that it doesn't make it any easier to find a needle in a haystack when you chuck on more hay."

Speculation about where security services may or may not have been looking - and what privacy issues may or may not be involved - would best be suspended until after the review, Mr Edwards said.

However, he was sure that privacy issues and how they related to security concerns would be discussed.

"I don't sense that this puts privacy at risk," Mr Edwards said.

"Privacy is a very contextual and multifaceted thing, its not a dichotomy - the idea of a trade-off between privacy and security is false because you are entitled to both.

"Security, intelligence and law enforcement services have always had the ability to do their jobs in a way which is regularly privacy intrusive, but they are limited in that and there is oversight and if they overstep the mark there are consequences.

"Whatever system we go to, I think those basic concepts will remain."

Two days before the Christchurch attack, Parliament reported back the Privacy Bill - the first significant review of New Zealand's privacy law in 25 years.

Implementing that new law and educating people about changes due to come into force next year was the main job facing him this year, Mr Edwards said.

"I have to let the whole of New Zealand know what their obligations are, what their rights are, and we have to think about how we use the new tools Parliament has given us."




Just check the lists 'Active/Inactive' and put inactives on the Active List. Broad brush, but the majority are now supportive of heightened security.


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