Travellers around the world have promised to boycott New Zealand after a controversial new airport rule was revealed where passengers who refuse to give their digital device passwords to authorities will be fined.
The law, which comes under New Zealand’s Customs and Excise Act 2018, will be in motion starting from this week, and will give customs officials the right to demand private information such as passwords, PINs and encryption keys to unlock devices and conduct “digital strip searches.”
Those who fail to issue their private passwords will be fined up to $NZ5000 ($A4580) and could face the threat of prosecution and the confiscation of their device.
In the past, customs officials were able to stop travellers at the border to search their devices, but the law didn’t force those coming into the country to provide their passwords.
“We’re not aware of any other country that has legislated for the potential of a penalty to be applied if people do not divulge their passwords,” said New Zealand customs spokesman Terry Brown.
Though despite the invasion of privacy, customs will not have access to the cloud.
“It is a file-by-file (search) on your phone. We’re not going into ‘the Cloud’,” Mr Brown told NZTV.
“We’ll examine your phone while it’s on flight mode.”
For officials to demand private information, they must have a “reasonable cause to suspect” the owner or their device. If the suspicions are deemed fair, then the data on the device may be copied and reviewed.
New Zealand border officials undertook the task of conducting a preliminary search on 537 devices last year.