Civil liberties groups in New Zealand are protesting a new law that would require travelers to provide passwords to customs officials in order to examine their electronic devices.
According to The Associated Press, the law that came into effect on October 1 will allow agents to copy data found on searched devices and fine travelers up to $3,243 for refusing to provide the passwords.
The New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties claims the new law allows customs officials to unlock the phones of travelers without justification and does not provide the proper legal avenues for people to challenge the decisions.
“Modern smartphones contain a large amount of highly sensitive private information including emails, letters, medical records, personal photos, and very personal photos,” council spokesman Thomas Beagle told The AP.
“Allowing customs to be able to demand the right to examine and capture all this information is a grave invasion of personal privacy of both the person who owns the device and the people they have communicated with,” Beagle continued.
Beagle also questioned if the new law would actually catch criminals, who could decide to pay the fine instead of compromising their data or simply upload all of the incriminating information to the cloud and then clear their phones before traveling.
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