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Wiretaps - Bugging Your phone and other covert surveillance

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Bugging telephones and Police spying techniques are now well and truly into the advanced electronic age.  They can bug your 'phone and your home.

But there are very strict limitations.

This is a very new topic on Netlaw and was inspired by one of our clients who wrote to us and put the idea in our minds.   In a somewhat indelicate manner he wrote :

"  .  .  .  I know  the  cops  can  bug  my  phone  but  what  is the  law?   Also  me  and  the  missus  have  split  up and she  is  going  custody.   Can  I  record  her crazy ravings  and  use  the  tape  in  Court  .  .  .  .  ? "

These are very important questions indeed and go right to the heart of civil liberties in New Zealand.

So we are going to set out all of the law so you understand the powers and the rights of people in this area of the law.

There are two questions in the above letter - Police powers and the powers of an ordinary citizen.  We will address both issues.


NO!   YOU CANNOT SNOOP ON OTHERS BUT THERE IS AN IMPORTANT EXCEPTION!    If you are one of the participants in a private conversation then you can tape it and use it in evidence.   But you must be one of the parties to the conversation.

SECTION 216 of the Crimes Act is a fairly recent Amendment.  It is well worth reading and you can access it through the links below to the Crimes Act 1961. 

If you record a private conversation (not involving yourself) you are liable for up to two years imprisonment.  You cannot use this information in a Court.  It is a crime to record secretly someone else's private conversation.


The right for  'authorities'  in New Zealand to undertake covert surveillance is contained in two Acts of Parliament .   The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Act 1978  and the Crimes Act

The first

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Feedback/Blogs/Reviews from related topic: Accessory After The Fact
"I find this topic really helpful as well as all the topics under the "Weekend Arrest" topic. This is the sort of basic informatin which needs to be taught in schools. Don't you agree?"
Feedback/Blogs/Reviews from related topic: Accessory After The Fact
"Dear Netlaw . . . it was really helpful to realise the difficultes in getting suppression of name and to get some of the caselaw. It allowed me to prepare a lot better. I had a silly shoplifting case but I am in my early thirties and I really wanted name suppression. You guys really helped. Also, you other sites are dazzling. Becs (not my real name)

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