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The new threat to people's rights: Search and Surveillance Bill 2009



There is a proposed new law before the Parliament that will greatly expand the powers of the state to conduct surveillance and require people to provide information.

This trend has serious implications for political activists. Recently released information confirms that the SIS has spied on New Zealanders' lawful behaviour and private lives for many decades. A promise that the SIS would be more open in providing access to such information has been short lived. Most people who now ask for their files under the Privacy Act are getting letters that say the SIS will neither confirm nor deny whether it holds a file on them.

So far, people’s attention has been focused on the SIS. Yet we know that different police units have also spied on political activism for many years. The number of units and their surveillance of activist groups and individuals have expanded as the police gained new resources and powers under the ‘anti-terrorism’ laws. Police entities such as the Strategic Intelligence Unit, Threat Assessment Unit and Special Investigation Group feed information into a super-spy group known as the Combined Threat Assessment Group that also includes the SIS, Defence force, GSCB, DPMC. There is no effective public accountability for their activities. People, including MPs who are supposed to be defenders of democracy, have no idea what these agencies are doing. Given the blurred boundary line between political activism, criminal offending, threats to security and terrorism, more search and surveillance powers for the police will inevitably feed into this network.

This new law gives powers to an even wider web of non-police state agencies that have a law enforcement power, such as conservation, fisheries or labour. It is not difficult to see how these agencies come into conflict with activists and protest-related activities. The powers proposed under this Bill must relate to an alleged criminal offence, but that is not a difficult threshold to reach – trespass, for example, is a criminal offence that potentially carries a prison sentence. It will be relatively easy to repackage the monitoring and collecting of intelligence on political activities as ‘criminal surveillance’.

The debate on this Bill is an important opportunity to expose these risks and insist that the politicians need to wind back the web of surveillance, not expand it.

What would this proposed new law do?

The official explanation is that it will “provide a coherent, consistent and certain approach in balancing the complementary values of law enforcement and human rights”. In practice, it introduces a new surveillance regime for those government agencies that have enforcement powers. Key elements give a range of enforcement agencies more extensive powers to use bugs, video cameras and other surveillance devices, and mean people can be ordered to answer questions or provide other information, including access codes to assist searches of computer data.

Are there added protections to go with these new powers?

There is some added reporting within the legal system, but nothing that gives people who are affected the right to know or challenge the use of these powers.

Who should be concerned about this?

Unions, Maori, peace activists, greenies, migrants, anarchists - basically anyone whose political activities can potentially breach a criminal law.

When do submissions close?

18 September 2009

Who do I send a submission to?

Email to or, the clerk of the Justice and Electoral Committee at Parliament, or provide 2 copies if you send a hard copy by snail mail.

For more information see:

What does a submission have to cover?

This Bill is long and complicated but a submission doesn’t have to deal with the legal details, just your views on the expansion of state surveillance powers. It is helpful to support this with examples that show state surveillance of political activism, such as your SIS and police files and police-paid spy Rob Gilchrist. Other relevant examples show the potential for search and surveillance powers to be abused, such as the road blocks around Ruatoki in October 2007, the seizure of animal rights activist Jesse Duffield’s computer, arrests of unionists for trespass at the site of disputes, etc.

Can I make a written submission or do I have to appear before the committee?

You can just send a written submission, but that is likely to sink without trace.  Submissions have most impact on MPs and the media when they are presented in person. Unfortunately, select committees usually only meet in Wellington.  Sometimes, the clerk of the committee will arrange for you to give your submission by teleconference or video link if you press them to. That’s still not the same as being eye to eye with the MPs. Appearing before them in Wellington is the most effective option, although it can be nerve wracking and expensive for out-of-towners.

Why bother with a submission if it’s obvious the Bill will be passed?

There are political gains from appearing before the select committee, even if it doesn’t affect the final law. Presumably, people who have applied under the Privacy Act for their SIS and police files have done so for a political purpose and not just individual curiosity. There are not too many political opportunities to challenge the extent and unaccountability of state surveillance. So we need to take them when they come. This is one step to building a stronger campaign.

How can I get more information about the Bill?

Below there is summary of the most controversial features of the Bill:
1.     About the Search and Surveillance Bill 2009
2.     Surveillance device warrants
3.     Residual warrants
4.     Computer searches
5.     An ‘examination order’
6.     A ‘production order’
7.     Road blocks without warrant
8.     The ‘Plain View’ Rule

Please note that this is a very general summary. It does not purport to provide a comprehensive or detailed analysis of the provisions in a very complex Bill!!!!

You can find the current Bill at
and the Bills Digest at
A previous version from Labour is at
The parliamentary debates are:

Why is this new law being created?

Officially, because the law on search and entry has been developed in a haphazard way over decades. It is vague, inconsistent, and spread across many different laws and court decisions, so it needed to be simplified and made more consistent across all government agencies that have law enforcement and regulatory powers. New technologies also make some of the existing powers out of date.

Is that true?

It is true that the existing laws are a mess and leave a lot to the discretion of individual enforcement officers. But this Bill goes further than tidying up the law. It expands the surveillance powers of police and other enforcement agencies at the expense of people’s civil rights and privacy.

What is the background to the new law?

The Law Commission advises the government about changes to the law. It produced a paper on entry, search and seizure back in 2002 and a 500 page final report on search and surveillance powers in June 2007, which it predicted would be controversial.

Is this Bill a creation of the National Government?

No. Labour introduced the original Bill and it already contained the most controversial new powers. National decided to continue with it after the election, although they made a few changes and gave government agencies more time to get prepared before it comes into effect.

What brings a government agency within the scope of these new powers?

It must be a ‘law enforcement agency’ that has a power to enter, search or seize under this Act or a ‘relevant Act’ that is explicitly tied to this law. Obviously, that covers the police. But it can also be a government department (Department of Labour and Immigration, Department of Conservation, Ministry of Fisheries, Department of Social Welfare/WINZ, Customs), Crown entity (Accident Compensation Commission, Civil Aviation Authority), local authority (Auckland City Council), or other body (NZ Food Standards Authority) that employs or engages enforcement officers.

Who is defined as an ‘enforcement officer’?

Anyone who is employed or engaged by a law enforcement agency. That includes a non-employee, such as a private investigator.

When would the new law come into effect?

On 1 April 2011 at the latest. It may be phased in to give the various agencies enough time to train their people in the new processes and requirements.


What counts as a surveillance device?

Three kinds of devices:
-    Interception device
-    Tracking device
-    Visual surveillance device (can be electronic or mechanical equipment or device used to observe and/or record a private activity)

When does an enforcement agency need a warrant to use a surveillance device?

When they intend to:
-    use an interception device to intercept a private communication
-    use a tracking device
-    observe and record private activity in private premises (defined to include a dwelling or marae) by a visual surveillance device
-    observe and record private activity  in the grounds of private property using a visual surveillance device for longer than 3 hours in 24 hours or 8 hours in total.

Do they always need to get warrants for these activities?

Not if they are lawfully on the premises and recording what they see or hear, or one party to the communication consents. Surveillance that is by ordinary sight and smell is also excluded.

Are there any other times when warrants aren’t needed for surveillance devices?

An emergency power allows surveillance devices to be used for up to 72 hours where they could have applied for a warrant but it was impracticable. That can apply where: the offence carries 14 years imprisonment or more; or an offence is about to be committed or emergency that is likely to cause injury or serious damage to property or a risk to a person’s life or safety requires an emergency response.

What about bugging by the SIS and anti-terrorism laws?

The SIS interception warrants are specifically excluded. So is the use of a surveillance device that is authorized under another Act.

What does an enforcement officer have to show to get a surveillance warrant?

They have to set out in reasonable detail the legal provision they rely on, the grounds for making the application, the suspected offence, the type of surveillance device that will be used, the name or address where it will be used, the evidence that may be obtained and the period of the warrant.

Can they apply for various kinds of warrants for the same purpose?

The application has to give details of any known application for a search, surveillance or residual warrant in the previous 3 months that relates to the same target and object of the device and the result of that application.

On what grounds does the judge issue the warrant?

There are reasonable grounds to suspect an offence that would allow the enforcement authority to apply for a search warrant and that the use of the proposed device will obtain evidence.

What does a surveillance warrant allow the enforcement agent to do?

The person executing the warrant can use reasonable force to install, maintain or remove the surveillance device. That includes entering any premises or vehicle, breaking open or interfering with a vehicle or temporarily removing and returning it.

How long can the warrant run for?

The warrant runs for a maximum of 60 days. However, the judge can issue further warrants for the same suspected offence without limit.

Does the warrant cover privileged communications?

Legal privilege applies unless the communication is made for a dishonest purpose or to plan or commit an offence. If the enforcement officer has reasonable grounds to believe that another kind of privilege applies, they can ask the judge to allow its use.

What safeguards are there for targets of surveillance?

Whoever carries out the surveillance warrant has to report to the court within a month of the warrant expiring on whether the surveillance produced evidential material, the circumstances in which the device was used, and any other information they are required to provide.

What does the judge do if they aren’t happy with the report?

They may (not must) direct that the information is destroyed and report the breach to the chief executive of the agency involved. They can also order that the person being spied on is told, but only if they think the warrant shouldn’t have been issued in the first place or there has been a serious breach; even that can be outweighed by the prejudice to an investigation, the safety of undercover agents or informants, the supply of information or international relationships.

Is there any other way people can find out whether they have been under surveillance and what information was collected?

Not through this law. They would have to seek that information under the Privacy Act or the Official Information Act.

3. RESIDUAL WARRANTS (Clauses 57-67)

What does this category of warrants cover?

Using ‘a device’ that is not a surveillance device to obtain evidence.

Are these warrants limited to the police?

No – any law enforcement agency that can get a search warrant can apply for a residual warrant. The reasoning is that surveillance is no more intrusive on someone’s privacy or rights than a search warrant is.

When does an enforcement agency need to get a residual warrant?

If what they are proposing to do may constitute an intrusion into a person’s reasonable expectation of privacy. Presumably the law enforcement agency makes that call. If they convince themselves that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy then they don’t need to seek a warrant.

What do they have to show to get the warrant?

The enforcement officer has to provide in reasonable detail the legal provision they are relying on, the grounds for making the application, the suspected offence, a description of the device or technique that will be used, the name or address where it will be used, the evidence that may be obtained and the period of the warrant.

On what grounds does the judge issue the warrant?

There are reasonable grounds to suspect an offence that would allow the enforcement authority to apply for a search warrant and that the use of the proposed device will obtain evidence.

Is there a requirement that they have no other way to get the material?

No. But they can’t get a residual warrant if there is another law that authorizes the obtaining of the evidential material.

What does a residual warrant allow the enforcement agent to do?

The person executing the warrant can use reasonable force to install, maintain or remove the device. That includes entering any premises or vehicle, breaking open or interfering with the vehicle or temporarily removing and returning it.

Can they get a residual warrant in addition to other warrants?

The application has to give details of any known application for a warrant in the previous 3 months that relates to the same target and object of the device and the result of that application.

How long can a residual warrant run?

The warrant runs for a maximum of 60 days. However, the judge can issue further warrants for the same suspected offence without limit.

What safeguards are there?

The same requirements for reports to the judge apply as for examination warrants.

Does the warrant cover privileged communications?

Legal privilege applies unless the communication is made for a dishonest purpose or to plan or commit an offence. If the enforcement officer has reasonable grounds to believe that another kind of privilege applies, they can ask the judge to allow its use.

4. COMPUTER SEARCH (Clause 125)

What kind of information about computers someone be required to provide?

Access information, such as passwords or encryption keys, and other information that is ‘reasonable and necessary’ for the person exercising a search power to access data in a computer or other data storage device.

Who can be required to supply this information?

The person who owns or leases the computer, or who is in possession or control of it, or their employee or a service provider, if they have the relevant knowledge.

What if doing so would reveal information about the person themselves?

Someone can’t be required to reveal access information that would tend to incriminate themselves, but they can be required to provide other kinds of assistance or provide information that does not incriminate them.

When can someone be required to give this information?

Only at the time a search power is being exercised legally (with or without a warrant) at a place or vehicle or in relation to a particular ‘thing’. For example, if the police seize a computer or have a warrant to search a place where a data base is stored.   

What kind of enforcement officers can use this power?

All categories who have search powers to access computer data, not only police.

Is there any protection for privacy?

No, only the general provisions in the Bill for privileged communications and confidentiality.

What if the person doesn’t comply?

If they don’t have a reasonable excuse (in the eyes of the court) they can face up to 3 months imprisonment.

Is this a new power?

People can already be required to give assistance to the police under the Summary proceedings Act. That includes providing access codes. However, there were doubts about the rights of police to access computer and other data storage systems. 

5. AN ‘EXAMINATION ORDER’ (Clauses 31 to 40)

What is an ‘examination order’?

Someone can be ordered to go to a certain place and answer questions from the police that they haven’t been willing to answer voluntarily.

So this power applies only to police?


What level of police officer applies for an examination order?

Formally, the Commissioner of Police applies in a similar way to an application for a search warrant.

Can people refuse to incriminate themselves?

Someone can claim the privilege against self-incrimination, but only under section 60 of the Evidence Act. That means someone cannot be required to provide in information that would be likely to incriminate them for a criminal offence and cannot be required to provide it. They can’t be prosecuted or penalised for refusing or failing to provide that information.

Doesn’t that basically exempt a suspect from having to comply with the order?
There is a catch. The Evidence Act says this privilege applies whether or not it was claimed at the time the person refused to provide the information. This new law says any assertion of the privilege must be explicitly based on section 60.

Can the reliance on Section 60 of the Evidence Act be challenged?

If someone refuses to provide answers on the grounds that it is privileged under section 60 the enforcement officer can ask a District Court Judge to decide whether that claim is valid.

When can an examination order be sought?

There are several pre-requisites:
-    a specific offence has been or will be committed;
-    there must be reasonable grounds to believe the person has the information;
-    they must have been given a reasonable opportunity to provide the information without an order.

What kind of people can be ordered to provide information?

The proposed law distinguishes a business context from a non-business context.

How is a business context defined?

A person in a business context is someone who provides professional services to a person being investigated for an offence that is punishable by imprisonment. They might also be a director, manager, trustee or employee of an entity that is being investigated for an offence.

Could that apply to a manager or employee of a union or activist organisation that is being accused of breaking some law?

It appears so.

What about confidentiality?

This kind of power already exists for serious fraud, but this greatly extends it and increases the scope for its use against activists.  The Bill contains a general provision on legal privilege and other forms of confidentiality, discussed above.

Are the rules the same for a non-business context?

The same criteria apply to a non-business context, but the offence must involve either
-    a serious or complex fraud or 
-    three or more people in continuing association who have as their objective a continuing course of criminal conduct.

Couldn’t that kind of ‘conspiracy’ apply to all sorts of collective activity?

Yes. It potentially targets collective action that falls within the traditional bounds of civil disobedience. Trespass carries a maximum penalty of three months imprisonment, so Maori, anti-war activists, greens planning to occupy land or a building could all come under this provision. 

What does a judge have to consider before making an examination order?

The judge is required to consider the nature and seriousness of the suspected offending, nature of the information sought, the relationship of the person to the suspect, and other ways of obtaining the information.

How specific is the examination order?

The order has to set out where they must attend, when, the grounds for the order and the nature of the questions that can be asked.

What is the procedure for being ‘examined’?

The person has to attend before a police officer and answer any questions relevant to the information that the order relates to.

How long does an order last for?

It can be in force for a maximum of 30 days.

Does someone have to comply with an examination order?

It is a legal obligation and failing to comply is a criminal offence in itself.

What is the penalty for not complying?

It would carry up to one year imprisonment or a $40,000 fine for a legal entity like a company.

6. A PRODUCTION ORDER (Clauses 68 to 77)

What does a production order relate to?

Various kinds of documents that are held that may have evidential value, including a bank statement, travel information and employment-related records.

Does it include telecommunications?

Yes, these provisions explicitly relate to call-related information held by network operators (where they have the necessary interception capability). It can cover the originating number of the call; number call is sent to; any diverted number; time; duration; point on network that mobile phone call originated; content of telecommunication.

When can a production order be made?

When the police say they have reasonable grounds to suspect an offence has been, is being or will be committed and the documents being sought are evidence relating to that offence and are under the control of the person being ordered to produce them.
Can only the police get a production order?

No. A production order can be sought by an enforcement officer from any state agency that has the power to apply for a search warrant to obtain documents.

What does the order say?

The order sets out the name of the person who has to produce the document, the grounds for the order, category of documents to be produced, when and how, and whether production is one off or ongoing.

How long can the order last for?

A maximum of 30 days.

What happens to the documents?

The original can be retained if it is still relevant to the investigation, a copy can be taken or the person producing it can be required to provide it in a usable form.

Can someone suspected of an offence be required to produce documents?

The same rules on self-incrimination apply as for an examination order.

What if someone doesn’t comply with a production order?

The maximum penalty is the same as for an examination order - up to one year imprisonment or a $40,000 fine for a legal entity.

Is the idea of a ‘production order’ new?

At present production orders only currently exist for the proceeds of crime and serious fraud office.


What does the Bill say about setting up a road block?

It explicitly gives the police the power to set up a road block for the purpose of arresting a person without needing a warrant from a judge. Some might argue that police are more likely to use the power if it is spelt out explicitly in an Act. 

On what basis would it allow the police set up a roadblock without a warrant?

A police officer of the rank sergeant or above could authorize a road block if they had ‘reasonable grounds to believe’ that a person who they have ‘reasonable grounds to believe’ has committed an offence that is punishable by imprisonment will travel past that place in a vehicle.

What kind of offence is punishable by imprisonment?

Most criminal offences, even minor ones, carry a possible penalty of imprisonment. Only the police can conduct the roadblock but offences could offences under a wide range of laws.

Would this allow police to set up the kind of road block they used at Ruatoki in the 2007 raids?

Yes, if a middle-ranking police officer was able to claim they were looking for one or more specific people who would be in a vehicle passing down that road.

What would they be allowed to do at the roadblock?

The police could
-    stop vehicles
-    require people to provide their name, address and date of birth
-    search the vehicle looking for the person
-    require the car to remain stopped for this to occur.

Could they go further than that?

This provision does not give police the power to set up a roadblock to look for evidence if they are not also looking for someone they want to arrest. However, another provision (clause 10) authorizes police to stop a car to arrest a person they believe the person is in the car and search it for evidence; yet another allows any enforcement officer to search a vehicle without warrant where they are satisfied they have the power to do so (clause 117).

Could they require people to be photographed at a roadblock, as in Ruatoki?

That is not authorized, so they couldn’t require it. Of course, police could ask people to consent and it can be hard to say ‘no’ under those kinds of oppressive conditions.

How long could the roadblock be maintained?

A roadblock authorized by a police officer could last for a maximum of 24 hours. A district court judge could extend that once for another 24 hours.

Do police have to consider the rights of people who might be stopped?

The police officer who authorizes a road block only needs to consider whether the safety of all road users is ensured, as far as practicable. They don’t have to consider any of the factors that were caused outrage when the police cordon was set up on the confiscation line at Ruatoki, such as privacy, dignity, racism, disruption or whether there are alternative, less intrusive options.

Are the police at all accountable when they use this power?

The authorizing police officer must keep a written record of the location of the roadblock, how long it was authorized for and the grounds for authorizing it.

What protection does this provide?

None, directly. That is a concern especially because the authorising officers only need to convince themselves that there are ‘reasonable grounds to believe’ there has been an offence and that the person will be in a vehicle passing that point.

Can people who are affected by a roadblock get to access to that information?

Not as of right. They would need to apply under the Official Information Act, and would probably encounter a number of legal and procedural roadblocks! If the road block resulted in a court case, the police could be required to provide that information as part of the ‘disclosure’.

Is this power new?

There is an existing power in the Crimes Act to set up road blocks. The point here is that there was an opportunity to address the grievances arising out of the Ruaokti road block and they haven’t.

8. THE ‘PLAIN VIEW’  RULE (Clause 119)

What is the ‘plain view’ rule?

If a search turns up some item that is considered to be relevant to a criminal offence, but not the offence that is the subject of the warrant, then it can be seized.

Are there any restrictions on that?

Only that the enforcement officer has ‘reasonable grounds to believe’ they could have got a search warrant or had other powers that allowed them to seized that item.
Why is it called ‘plain view’?

The justification is that evidence that is found in the course of a search, but not specifically looked for, should be able to be seized. However, that’s not what the provision actually says – it just refers to an item they find in the course of carrying out the search or as a result of observations in that place.

Could this include computer data?

It appears so.

What’s to stop police using one offence to conduct a general trawl?

The stock response is that police would lay themselves open to challenge if they acted that way and then wanted want to use that item as evidence in court. But that doesn’t address the situation facing political activists, where police may trawl for interesting information and feed it into their various ‘intelligence’ data bases.


This is why...

... Cheney and the Neocons blew up the World Trade Centre towers and Building 7, on 9/11. Total control is the goal :) . The sick perps even built memorials for the atrocity that they themselves carried out. To them it's "just business", and it sure is great business for the Police and the SIS. If it weren't for 9/11, they wouldn't get away with this. Read about the high tech explosive that the perps used via this extract:



"Alert: Corporate media blackout!


Scientists have found high tech explosives in dust recovered from the three World Trade Centre "collapses", which occurred on the 11th of September 2001.


Go to and read "Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe". It's in the The Open Chemical Physics Journal, 2009, Vol. 2.


How did highly sophisticated explosive material – known as nano-thermite – find its way into one of the most secure building complexes in the US? No one will ever know until an independent investigation is carried out. Please visit the web site of Architects & Engineers For 9/11 Truth ( Over 800 architects and structural engineers are now demanding a real investigation into the three "collapses" which occurred on 9/11.


DO NOT BE INTIMIDATED BY BRAIN DEAD THUGS WHO WORK FOR THE GOVERNMENT. They're just "doing their job", like Josef Mengele and Hermann Goering. 9/11 was orchestrated by criminal elements of the American government, led by Cheney and the Neocons. Anyone who has spent 5 minutes researching 9/11 from a reputable source, will know that the official story is full of holes that you could fly a 747 through."

Remember, remember,the 11th

Remember, remember,

the 11th of September,

the nano-thermite treason plot,

I can think of no reason why the nano-thermite treason should ever be forgot!


9/11: The day Dick Cheney blew up and pulverized approximately 3000 American citizens. That man is a psychopathic, American hating scumbag, who should be thrown in jail for the terrorism that he ordered to happen.

Here is the thermite reaction, where the thermite begins to melt the steel. Three minutes later, the building comes down at free fall speed:

burn, thermite, burn!

Holy crap everyone, you better all read that document I mentioned and research this immediately. This is more obvious and horrible than the Reichstag fire! Even Hitler couldn't be this evil and cunning!

just read this on corporate

Andrew Thomas GIBSON of Gibson Security & The Temperance Bar

Creditors can find Andrew Thomas Gibson (actually born: Thomas Andrew Gibson) hiding behind a large gate and cameras at 116 Liverton Road, Belmont, Lower Hutt. You can also view him at:

gees your on to it

gees your on to it

Andrew Thomas GIBSON at 116 Liverton Road, Belmont, Lower Hutt

Yes, the fat fuck is there so go and get your money from Andrew Thomas Gibson (Thomas Andrew Gibson), the baliff says watch out for the dogs and cameras! You will find Andrew Gibson (The Temperance Bar, Loaded Hog, Gibson Security) at 116 Liverton Road, Belmont, Lower Hutt. Failing that go find him at the NEW Loaded Hog in Lower Hutt where you will find him hiding in his company with Stewart Thwaites (junior and senior), what a bunch of sad conmen

Andrew Thomas Gibson - The Temperance Bar, Gibson Security

Andrew Thomas Gibson of The Temperance, Gibson Security and the Loadec Hog can be found hiding behing two big dogs, cameras and a large fence at 116 Liverton Road, Belmont.

QC Rodney Harrison once

QC Rodney Harrison once commented that the implimentation of this bill into law would be a, "revolution in police powers", which is a stark contrast to the police position that it is some quasi updating or merely a 'modernising' of their search powers.

It would constitute the end of private property for one thing, private property being a set of doctrines that managed to survive 800 years of totalitarianism in Europe.

It would be the end of individual privacy full stop.

Without getting too conspiratice about it, pray do tell what exactly is left as the rights of an individual to their privacy if this bill is legislated? What would be the point of the Bill of Rights other than some symbolic attempt at describing the rights of individuals from a bygone era?

Anyone know what happened to