SIS says it has green light to tap CCTV cameras

By Will Trafford

The government’s spy agency says it’s been advised that tapping CCTV cameras across the motu is entirely legal.

The SIS was told last year by its watchdog it should review and revise its policy on tapping video shot by other government agencies like the thousands of traffic cameras across the nation operated by Waka Kotahi (NZTA).

But the SIS tells RNZ that Crown Law has advised it, it is doing nothing wrong and the tapping is legal, although it had reviewed and addressed other advice from the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security.

The SIS declined to release the full legal advice saying it was 'privileged’.

The Inspector-General criticised the agency last year for being too secretive, with the agencies that provided their camera data, not allowed to have a copy of the agreement they signed with the spy agency.

A 2021 report found the agency was accessing the cameras as an "obvious and important tool" for intelligence agencies to fulfil their public safety responsibilities.

Public Interest Journalism, funded through NZ On Air