16 Dec 2017

NZ Privacy Commissioner takes stand in US case

12:14 pm on 16 December 2017

New Zealand's Privacy Commissioner has taken a stand against the United States in a court case which could have wide-ranging implications.

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards

John Edwards Photo: Supplied

The case concerns governments' power to seize information about their citizens held in other countries, and will be heard in the US Supreme Court next year.

America's government wants to access private information about a US citizen accused of drug trafficking, which is held in an Irish centre owned by Microsoft.

Rather than asking Ireland to hand over the information, the government wants to seize it under US search warrant laws.

The request was knocked back by the US Court of Appeal, but it's been appealed up to the Supreme Court.

The privacy commissioner John Edwards made a voluntary submission on the case.

He said allowing this would mean the US could unilaterally seize data from New Zealand, which would breach privacy law.

Mr Edwards said countries should nurture a culture of co-operation in such cases.