New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs helps law-enforcement agencies in other countries avoid their own governments’ restrictions on internet surveillance, by detecting online trading in pornography and other objectionable material.
Justice Minister Phil Goff says that within some European countries it is illegal for inspectors to undertake covert investigations on the internet.
“By undertaking this work in New Zealand and providing the evidence through Interpol to the authorities, the Department of Internal Affairs inspectors are able to thwart the attempts of offenders to avoid prosecution by trading in different jurisdictions.
“The Department of Internal Affairs has also developed software applications for internet tracking which has been provided to overseas jurisdictions.”
Without such assistance, the minister adds, some overseas offenders would probably not have been convicted.
Goff’s response comes in the course of replying to a question from Computerworld on the effect of different laws in various jurisdictions on what kind of material is illegal. In particular, a US statute, Title 18, Chapter 110, Section 2256, which requires that for an image to be considered “child pornography”, children or young persons depicted must be “engaging in sexually explicit conduct”.
This is somewhat looser than local law, which would also in many cases penalise a picture of a minor simply posing nude or partly so.
“I am unaware of any examples of US laws eroding international efforts to close down internet sources of material that are considered illegal in this country”, Goff says.