New Zealand is getting some unfair bad publicity after a change in their laws which allows Customs officials to ask for the passwords to access computers or devices brought into the country.
Customs officials all over the world can usually search anything you bring in and that includes password protected Office documents, hard drives, USB sticks, CD/DVD, even your teenage diary <g>
One of the fun 2015 proposals for the New Zealand flag, sadly rejected in favour of more serious suggestions <g>.
The only difference is that NZ has a specific law about asking for passwords. Most countries use existing laws to justify searches of hard drives and devices.
Many countries have a similar device access policy/law in place for many years … including the USA and UK. Even if there isn’t a specific law to demand passwords, there’s usually existing legislation which is used.
There are some instances in less scrupulous countries where Customs officials try to get commercially sensitive info to benefit local businesses.
If your hard drive contains something you don’t want inbound Customs to see … take it off your drive before travelling. You can get it from the cloud or have someone email it to you when you’ve safely arrived.
New Zealand is a great place to visit
Visitors to New Zealand should NOT be put off by this news. It only applies to the few, targeted, people taken aside for closer inspections.
In 2017, only 537 preliminary searches of devices were done out of over 3.7 million visitor arrivals (and that doesn’t include about 2.5 million returning NZ citizens/residents).
NZ Immigration and Customs is very efficient. Like Australia, they are mostly concerned with ‘bio-security’. Don’t bring in any food, fruit, animal or biological matter. If you must, make sure you declare anything you’re unsure of.