New Zealand to join the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime.

Cabinet has announced that it intends for New Zealand to join the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime:

Ministerial release - New Zealand to join the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime(external link)

Joining the Convention was a recommendation of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on Christchurch masjidain on 15 March 2019.

The Convention has long defined international best practice for combatting online crime.  The Convention does this by ensuring that countries define certain cybercrimes in the same way and have common protocols to support international cooperation on the collection and sharing of electronic evidence of serious offending.  

New Zealand's laws already largely align with the Convention’s requirements.  Joining the Convention will only require that minor changes are made to:

  • introduce a new system of preservation orders.  These orders will require that specified electronic evidence of criminal offending is not deleted or modified for a short period of time.  This ensures that vulnerable evidence is not lost before a court is able to consider an application for a production order;
  • introduce a new system of confidentiality orders.  These orders will require that service providers who are called upon to assist in executing certain types of search warrants (e.g. “wire taps”) do not reveal the existence of the action for a limited period of time. Confidentiality orders ensure that criminal investigations are not prejudiced at an early stage, before essential evidence can be secured;
  • amend existing production order and surveillance device warrant powers so that they are available to support international investigations.  Our mutual assistance laws have not kept up with developments to the Search and Surveillance Act 2012.  Consequently some core domestic search powers are not currently available to support international investigations; and
  • minor technical amendments to a few existing cybercrime offences.

Further details about Cabinet’s decision, including the changes required to join the Convention, are set out in the relevant Cabinet paper:

Cabinet minute - Budapest Convention on Cybercrime [PDF, 1.2 MB]

These proposals were informed by a public consultation undertaken between July and September 2020:

Public consultation on a Proposal for New Zealand to Join the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime(external link) 

A summary of submissions received during consultation is available here:

Summary of submissions: New Zealand accession to the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime [PDF, 248 KB]

The next steps that must be completed before New Zealand can join the Convention is for Parliament to consider the Treaty, and then for a Bill to be introduced to Parliament seeking the necessary legislative changes. 

These next steps will commence later this year and will provide further opportunities for the public to have a say on New Zealand joining the Convention.

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