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Domestic information sharing

Improving information sharing between NZSIS and GCSB and individuals and other entities - what the New Zealand Intelligence and Security Bill 2016 proposes.

  • Giving the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) and New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) direct access to certain government databases.
  • Allowing GCSB and NZSIS to seek access to restricted information such as drivers licence photographs and tax information on a case-by-case basis.
  • Expressly acknowledging that GCSB and NZSIS, like any government agency, can ask for information from individuals and other organisations on an ad hoc basis.
  • Making GCSB and NZSIS subje

Why share information?

A range of individuals and organisations (both public and private sector) hold information necessary to help NZSIS and GCSB protect New Zealand from security threats.

Sharing information with GCSB and NZSIS, however, is different from sharing with other government agencies, because of the intrusive nature of their work. It’s therefore especially important that the law is clear, robust and accessible.

Access to certain government databases

As recommended by the Reviewers of the First Independent Review of Intelligence and Security, the Bill proposes giving NZSIS and GCSB direct access to specific government databases. This is conditional on the written agreement of the relevant ministers.


Examples of why access may be needed

NZ Customs Service: Border-crossing craft, goods, and people

To detect the arrival of foreign intelligence officers or other persons of interest (such as suspected terrorists).

Immigration NZ data

To track the movements of a person of interest. See Powers and warrants for more information.

Department of Internal Affairs: Births, deaths, marriages and relationships, and citizenship registers

To cross-check information to confirm identities or associations between persons of interest, or to confirm nationality.

Access to other restricted information

It is proposed that NZSIS and GCSB will be able to seek access to restricted individual information on a case-by-case basis, but they must seek permission. Permission would be granted through a process similar to the process for obtaining a warrant. Access requires the approval of the Attorney-General and, if the information involves a New Zealander, the Chief Commissioner of Intelligence Warrants.

Examples include:

  • Tax information held by the Inland Revenue Department
  • Driver license photographs held by NZTA
  • National Student Identification Numbers and linked information

NZSIS and GCSB can request information

To avoid any doubt, the Bill will recognise that GCSB and NZSIS have the same power as any other government agency to request information from other public and private entities.

It will also acknowledge that those individuals and organisations may ordinarily disclose information to GCSB and NZSIS.

Expanding coverage under the Privacy Act 1993

The Bill proposes amending the Privacy Act 1993 to remove the existing general exception provided to GCSB and NZSIS. Instead, the intelligence and security agencies will be subject to more of the Privacy Act’s information privacy principles, with some specialised exceptions in light of their functions.

Download this page as a factsheet.

Factsheet 13 (PDF 486 KB)

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Last updated: 
Monday, 15 August 2016

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