NZSIS accepts the recommendations in the Inspector-General's report

Thursday 14 December

The New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) accepts the recommendations in the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security's (IGIS) report into the way it accessed the NZ Customs Service (CusMod) and Immigration New Zealand (Advance Passenger Processing or APP) databases.

CusMod and APP are key systems which allow the NZSIS to determine whether people of security concern are entering New Zealand. They are critical to NZSIS's operations.

Rebecca Kitteridge, Director General of Security, said new legislation which came into effect this year explicitly confirmed NZSIS's authority to access the databases (CusMod and APP) for specific purpose related to individuals of concern. In doing so, the Intelligence and Security Act 2017 provides a clear and robust framework for the NZSIS to operate within.

"NZSIS staff are committed to protecting the safety of New Zealanders and always strive to work within the law. We are committed to working closely with the IGIS," Ms Kitteridge said.

"I am pleased that in her report the Inspector-General recognised that the NZSIS did not wilfully break the law.

"The issues identified in the report are largely legacy issues and relate to a period when the law was unclear, and when the NZSIS had challenges with resources and capability. For example, when I started at the NZSIS there was no team of staff focusing on legal compliance and the legal team was significantly under-resourced.

"The NZSIS exists to help keep New Zealand and New Zealanders safe. Our work must often be carried out in secret, but I am a big believer in transparency where possible. Where we have made mistakes, we have sought to raise them with the IGIS and to learn from them.

"It was never our intention to be slow or impede the IGIS’s work. The IGIS's investigation took place during a period of very significant change and we were dealing with very complex legal issues which required us to seek advice from Crown Law. This was recognised in the IGIS's 2017 Annual Report:

"While the agencies have developed a more systematic approach to responding to the OIGIS request for information, in this reporting year their recourses were heavily committed to the legislative reform process, while having to carry on business as usual, with the unfortunate consequence that response times have again been slowed."

"Now that the (IS) Act is in place it should be able to respond more quickly to oversight request."

"Our legal compliance systems are in a much better place, as evident in the Inspector-General finding that our compliance procedures and systems are sound in her 2017 Annual Report. Getting to this point has required concerted effort to strengthen our systems and processes.

"The NZSIS accepts all the recommendations in this report and will work with the IGIS to action them."