30 Mar 2023

Courts not ruling out mass data storage in Australia

7:49 pm on 30 March 2023
Servers in a datacentre

Photo: 123rf

The courts are not ruling out storing masses of highly sensitive data in Australia.

This comes under a new strategy led by the judiciary to take the justice system fully digital.

The Office of the Chief Justice's spokesperson said the new case and document management for courts and tribunals was "expected to be delivered using cloud services".

It preferred all judicial, court and Justice Ministry information remain in New Zealand.

But "we may consider data transiting or at rest in Australia", it said amid a host of public relations messages about the move.

This is similar to what happens to a lot of Aotearoa's other public data, including evidentiary information about criminal cases that police store in Australia with a US company, Axon.

Asked by RNZ what input it has had about data sovereignty, and Māori data sovereignty in particular, the Chief Justice's Office spokesperson said in a statement one principle was that cloud services would align with "core values".

It did not outline any work explicitly done or input sought on this.

Māori data sovereignty - and whether other government projects, such as building a digital identity framework for citizens, have taken it seriously enough - has been a thorny issue for several years.

The digital strategy's 21-page consultation draft from last year does not mention "data sovereignty" at all.

It only mentions Māori in a substantive way once: "Technology should support the delivery of justice in a manner that promotes the rule of law and respects human dignity and the values that underpin the legal system of Aotearoa New Zealand, including the values reflected in the common law, tikanga Māori and the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990."

The strategy does not specify what technology to use.

"That will be determined on a case-by-case basis in relation to each initiative," the spokesperson said.

The other principles outlined are: Consistency with constitutional responsibilities, including preserving and enhancing judicial control and supervision of court information; reliability; transparency; and security to ensure confidentiality and combat data risks.

Laws around privacy and public records would also determine how the strategy rolled out, the PR said.

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