New Zealand Tourists Face Hefty Fine If They Refuse To Unlock Smartphone

By Parker Diakite


If you are traveling to New Zealand, then you’ll want to make sure that your smartphone is unlocked and ready.  Revisions to one of the country’s customs laws will allow for fine of 5,000 New Zealand dollars (3238.50) if you refuse to unlock your electronic devices, according to reports from Global News.


The new law went into effect on Oct. 1 and aims to make travel to New Zealand more seamless.


According to the New Zealand customs’ website, The Customs and Excise Act 2018 replaces the “current outdated and much-amended 1996 Act,” and uses modern language that is easier to understand and interpret.


“Many of the new changes will result in time and cost savings,” New Zealand Customs Service spokesperson Terry Brown, said in a statement. “The traveling public is unlikely to notice much difference at the border, with existing provisions reconfirmed or clarified.”


But opponents of the updated law said New Zealand’s Customs now “powers an unjustified invasion of privacy,” and is a “turn-off” for visitors.


In a statement, Thomas Beagle, chairperson for The New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties said, “Modern smartphones contain a large amount of highly sensitive private information including emails, letters, medical records, personal photos, and very personal photos. 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 went on to say that the new law could make it more dangerous for people to travel.


“Any professional criminal could easily store their data on the internet, travel with a wiped phone, and restore it once they enter the country,” he said. “Any criminal who fails to do this would surely pay $5k fine rather than reveal evidence relating to crimes that might involve jail time.”


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