Internal Affairs: 'faxed warrants fine'

The Department of Internal Affairs has produced a legal opinion which it says supports the view that faxing search warrants, rather than have an officer execute them in person, is legal.

The Department of Internal Affairs has produced a legal opinion which it says supports the view that faxing search warrants, rather than have an officer execute them in person, is legal.

The issue was raised by Auckland lawyer Craig Horrocks last week, who claimed faxed warrants served on internet service providers were illegal, and subsequent court convictions based on evidence collected in that manner open to challenge.

But according to Internal Affairs, a Crown Law Office opinion says so long as an ISP agrees to being served a warrant by fax, the process is legal.

Computerworld reported last week that the department "conceded the rules might sometimes be broken". But Computerworld accepts that the department made no such concession.

Meanwhile, the National Party's spokesman on internal affairs, Lindsay Tisch, is wading into the debate, saying the legislation on serving warrants is clear, and that they must be served in person.

"The requirements for search warrants are very strict," says Tisch, a justice of the peace.

"There are very strict protocols to cover warrants because legally they can be challenged," he says.

Tisch says he is not willing to let the matter rest. "I will be asking a question in the House about it."

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