Travelling to New Zealand? Be prepared to hand over your mobile, laptop password

FYI, If you fail to give your passwords to the New Zealand Customs officials, the fine is NZ $5,000.

Want to travel to New Zealand to see the 1,250-acre working sheep farm that became Hobbiton, because you’re a fan of the film ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’? Well, be prepared to feel a bit odd when you’re asked for your mobile phone password when you enter the county.

The New Zealand Customs service now has a few special powers including being able to demand your phone’s password to search your device.

Travelling to New Zealand? Be prepared to hand over your mobile, laptop password

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Handling over devices like phones and laptops to the customs officials is not a new rule. Many countries like the US and even New Zealand have had it in the past, but the new regulations in the Customs and Excise Act 2018 specify that the passengers have to hand over their passwords, and they do not have a choice. Head here to read the new legislation stating the same.

Under the “Powers in relation to goods” statement, it is clearly mentioned that “data in electronic devices are subject to the control of Customs.”

It further elicits the power granted to a customs official to “make a full search of a stored value instrument,” including the power to require the owner of the device to “provide access information and other information or assistance” that is needed to check the digital device. If you fail to do so, the fine will be NZ $5,000 (about Rs 2,40,000).

While New Zealand may be trying to tighten its border security, it sure worries advocates of privacy.

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