The government is planning to make New Zealand party to the European Convention on Cybercrime, the draft Digital Strategy 2.0 revealed last week.
New Zealand already provides in its domestic law for most of the measures outlined under the convention, signed by the countries of the European Union and also by the US and requiring laws against the misuse of computer systems, money laundering, the production and distribution of child pornography and copyright offences.
But the convention has some controversial provisions, such as an obligation on member states to “obtain the expeditious preservation of specified computer data” sought by another state as evidence of an alleged crime — even when the act associated with the evidence is not a crime in the state that holds the data.
Fears have been expressed that an autocratic government could pressure a more liberal governments under this provision to provide data on acts the latter would consider protected by legislation, such as the New Zealand Bill of Rights.
Civil liberties organisations also fear signatory states could be required to cooperate with, for example, conservative “hate-speech” laws.
The strategy also sets a timeframe of this year to establish a single National Cyber Crime Centre, to be sited in Wellington.
This will provide specialist expertise nationwide and act as a coordination point for New Zealand’s participation in international investigations.