National Security vs Personal Privacy

Cynthia Laberge was the 2008-2009 InternetNZ Senior Research Fellow in Cyberlaw at Victoria University of Wellington. 

Why are we encouraging the police to break the law?

As the agency responsible for upholding the law it is obvious that the police have a duty to operate within the law.

It is now public knowledge that the police in New Zealand have been illegally using video surveillance for some years.

The Supreme Court

The Supreme Court's decision in the Hamed case is fairly scathing of the police's deliberate flouting of the law. The Chief Justice wrote:

Liberty Watch - September 2011

Round-up of civil liberty news for September 2011.

Can you photograph or video the police in New Zealand?

Tech Liberty confirms that it is legal in New Zealand to photograph or video the police at work.

We wrote to both the Police Commissioner and the Minister of Police and asked them "Is it against the law in New Zealand to take photos of video of the police at work?" The Police responded first: "No, not if the photos of video of police at work are taken in a public place, or with the landowner's consent if on private property."

Wellington protest opposing surveillance law patch-up

The group opposing the Search & Surveillance Bill have called for a public protest against the government's plans to retrospectively permit the police to use illegal video surveillance.

We would like to invite you to a protest march next Saturday 1 October at 2pm starting from Cuba Mall in Wellington. Please bring banners, placards, friends and whanau - and pass this message along to any likeminded folks - and help spread the word via Facebook and email lists.

To Train Up a Child


Generally the NZCCL does not advocate censorship. Where possible, we believe, people should be free to make up their own minds what to read, and that the process of banning inhibits the free exchange of ideas.

The fact that a book advocates something that is against the law is not a good argument for banning it. Indeed the only way that our justice and legal systems may change is through challenge to them. So books that advocate the death penalty, the legalisation of marjijuana or the abolition of prisons may be raising legitimate debate about fundamental decisions that have informed our legal system for many years.

Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill

Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill

It seems strange that in this society that values so much the rule of law, and one where other government departments must keep stringently to their legal mandate, the New Zealand Police are able to stretch the law to suit themselves, and then require retrospective legislation to legalise their actions.

The police may state that they believed they were working inside the law. However they must have known that that was not the case – papers produced in 2010 to clarify the Search and Surveillance legislation indicated then that in part the Bill was to mandate actions the police had assumed without legal support.

Liberty Watch - August 2011

Round-up of civil liberty news for August 2011.

Police censor political website

As discussed on the telephone a short time ago, this is a request from the New Zealand Police to close down the website which is hosted by your company.

Why are the NZ Police calling a web-hosting company in order to try to get a website closed down? The email continues:

Liberty Watch - July 2011

Round-up of civil liberty news for July 2011.

Defining a charity

When the government in its efficiency drive gets around to reorganising the Charities Commission, we hope that it will adopt a definition of charity that is more contemporary than the purpose currently in our 2005 New Zealand Charities Act, namely: “every charitable purpose, whether it relates to the relief of poverty, the advancement of education or religion, or any other matter beneficial to the community.” This purpose was derived from the English 1601 Charitable Purposes Act, in a society where poverty was regarded as a crime, there was no public schooling, and no health or welfare system.

Liberty Watch - June 2011

Round-up of civil liberty news for June 2011.

Liberty Watch - May 2011

Round-up of civil liberty news for May 2011.

Obituary: George Barton

George Barton recently died in Wellington. He was a long time member and supporter of the Council over many years.

The following obituary is as it appeared in the Dominion Post on 28 May 2011 and is used with permission from Peter Kitchin.

Why flag burning counts as freedom of speech

Lawyer Steven Price writes strongly in defence of freedom of speech in the Dominion Post (also on his blog). He was one of the laywers representing Valerie Morse in the Supreme Court when she successfully appealed her conviction for burning a New Zealand flag as a protest at an ANZAC Day dawn ceremony.

He points out that the protest at an ANZAC Day memorial was relevant:

Liberty Watch - April 2011

Round-up of civil liberty news for April 2011.

Prisoners and the Right to Vote

Prior to 16 December 2010 prisoners who had been sentenced to preventative detention or imprisoned for a term of 3 years of more were disqualified from voting, or enrolling to vote.  After this date the Electoral (Disqualification of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Act 2010 disqualified people sentenced to any term of imprisonment after the Act's commencement from enrolling or voting.  Prisoners on remand were still entitled to vote, as were those sentenced to home detention.

Liberty Watch - March 2011

Round-up of civil liberty news for March 2011 (final version updated on 3/4/2011).


Council Requirements for Mown Lawns

Gang Patches in Whanganui

Riff-Raff are people too

The New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties is alarmed and dismayed that a bunch of business people can think they have the right to determine whether and which people can be stopped from using a public right of way adjacent to their shops. They plan to buy or lease the land from the council so that they can issue trespass notices to any ‘riff-raff’ that might congregate there.

While the NZCCL has some sympathy with the retailers, other solutions need to be found that do not themselves circumvent the law and people’s rights.

SIS Amendment Bill extends powers?

The SIS Amendment Bill has been introduced along with its Regulatory Impact Statement

The authors of the Bill describe it as an update to support new technology and clarify existing provisions. The main changes the Bill makes are:

Round-up: Search & Surveillance Bill

A round-up of what people are saying about the latest version of the Search & Surveillance Bill.

The report of the Justice & Electoral Select Committee claims that major changes have been made to the Bill since the poorly received earlier versions:

Chairperson's Report for 2009-2010

Chairperson's Report To Members At The Annual General Meeting Of The New Zealand Council For Civil Liberties Inc Held On 10 November 2010

Another year has passed and it is time to report once again to members.  This has been a busy and generally productive year for the Council.  The Executive continues to meet on a monthly basis, and all 4 members have attended virtually every meeting.

Personal account of NZCCL AGM and BOR Talk

This is my personal account of the NZCCL AGM and the talk by Andrew Butler that followed. It is not intended to be official minutes.


Guest post: The Police Arms Race

Guest post by Michael Bott

Greg O’Connor wants all Police to be armed. The Prime Minster John Key thinks that some move towards the routine arming of police is inevitable and Police Minister Judith Collins isn’t interested in what woolly liberals think (i.e. anyone with an alternative view to herself). Ms Collins suggests as an interim measure most Police cars being fitted with “lock boxes” containing guns and has strongly hinted if the Police Commissioner Howard Broad wants all his officers armed then she wouldn’t oppose the call. Interestingly the Commissioner has expressed caution. I agree. Before we rush head long into a Wyatt Earp response to perceived violent crime in New Zealand we should pause and ask some questions.

Encouraging conversations about justified limitations on rights

Some thoughts on the NZ Bill of Rights Act 1990 at its 20th Anniversary

The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 (BoRA) is having its “ups and downs”.   After the hopeful start of being conceived as “superior law”, providing a yardstick against which the courts could strike down legislation that was inconsistent with our civil rights and freedoms, the BoRA was enacted as an ordinary law.   It is, of course, widely recognised as a “super statute”; a statute setting standards that Parliament ought take note of when passing legislation.  On the “down swing” again, it appears that this ideal is loosing ground as Parliament legislates further limitations on the rights in the BoRA, by way of subsequent legislation.

NZCCL Annual General Meeting - Nov 10th

The Annual General Meeting of the New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties will be at 12:30pm on Wednesday the 10th of November.

It will be held in the upstairs seminar rooms at St Andrews on The Terrace, Wellington. Access is through the church office on the North side of the building.

All members are welcome. It is possible to join on the spot at the AGM.

Public Talk - The Not Quite Bill of Rights

Following the AGM (approximately 1pm) Andrew Butler will give a presentation - "The Not Quite Right Bill of Rights".

Changes to name suppression laws

The government has announced plans to implement the recommendations of the Law Commission to change the laws around name suppression. In summary: