27 Nov 2016

Bill would restrict Customs search powers

8:15 pm on 27 November 2016

The government has proposed restricting the right of Customs officials to search people's phones and other electronic devices at the border.

Saed, a 22-year-old engineering grad who was stopped and questioned after coming back from Egypt.

Photo: RNZ / Mohammed Hassan

The new Customs and Excise Bill has been introduced and contains changes to border management.

Currently, Customs can freely examine people's electronic devices, but if passed into law, the bill would mean border officials could only do so if they had a reasonable suspicion someone was breaking the law.

If that was the case, they could then insist that people enter any passwords.

Customs Minister Nicky Wagner said the new search powers struck a balance between protecting privacy and ensuring border protection.