New Zealand Customs now might force you to open up your phone—or pay up

Enlarge (credit: masa osada)

New Zealand privacy activists have raised concerns over a new law that imposes a fine of up to NZ$5,000 (more than $3,200) for travelers—citizens and foreigners alike—who decline to unlock their digital devices when entering the country. The Southern Pacific nation is believed to be the first in the world to impose such a law.

According to the Customs and Excise Act of 2018, which took effect on October 1, travelers must comply if officials believe there is a “reasonable cause.” The law does not spell out exactly what that means, nor does it provide a means for individuals to challenge this assessment.

NZ authorities are only to search data locally held on the device and not in cloud storage.

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