Smile, you are on candid camera!

Surveillance cameras, hidden and visible, have become a norm in today’s society.

You can expect to find them near ATM machines, service stations and many other retail outlets throughout New Zealand.

Auckland’s Central Business District has scores of hidden cameras, which capture every movement round-the-clock.

No one really bothers about them.

But with the new ‘Search & Surveillance Act’ that came into effect on October 1, 2012, you have to be careful what you do and say.

The Act has drawn together the powers that existed under 68 separate laws, authorising more government agencies to carry out surveillance operations.

Reasonable grounds

The only requirement to meet the threshold is that the agencies could survey an area or search a person if they had ‘reasonable ground’ for believing that someone had committed or would commit an offence.’

The Police could complete some forms of surveillance and searches without warrants. It would depend on situations.

Could this mean a massive expansion of police powers and breach of Bill of Rights of people?

Not really but it would mean that all of us must ensure that we are not in any of those situations advertently or inadvertently.

Tracking devices

How does one know whether someone is watching and if so in what manner?

Surveillance could be through a tracking device (open or implanted) to ascertain the location of an object or a person and may not be always be visual.

A visual surveillance device is used to observe or record a private activity.

The Act contains a new definition of ‘computer searches,’ making it clear that remote access for searching computers is permitted, subject to specific situations.

The legislation is wide-ranging and involves many government agencies.

The Police would exercise the right to access your computer if they ‘have reasonable grounds’ to do so.

You must make sure that your computer does not have anything illegal.

The Government will review the new legislation after four years.

Ram Sastry is a Barrister specialising in Criminal, Immigration, Traffic and Family Laws. He can be contacted on (09) 2708607 Mobile 021-2307222

Email: sastryrambhatla@gmail.com

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