A gay New Zealander has had first hand experience with new rules in Australia, which give customs officers power to search travellers' laptops and cellphones for pornography. The man, who spoke to GayNZ.com, says he was pulled aside at Cairns Airport. "And after they had searched my bags and suitcase, they asked me if I had any pornography on my laptop. I said no, but they insisted that I switch it on so they could check." After spending about 10 minutes going through all his files in front of other travellers in the arrivals area and not finding anything remotely pornographic, they took his laptop into a room to do further searching. "About five minutes later they returned looking rather disappointed that there was nothing to be found. I was also asked if the camera I had with me had ever been used to produce pornography." The Australian Sex Party claims officials now have an unfettered right to examine travellers' electronic devices, marking the beginning of a new era of official investigation into people's private lives. President Fiona Patten is demanding an inquiry into why a new question appears on Incoming Passenger Cards asking people if they are carrying "pornography". "If you and your partner have filmed or photographed yourselves making love in an exotic destination or even taking a bath, you will have to answer 'Yes' to the question or you will be breaking the law," she says. Customs have confirmed to the Sydney Morning Herald there are new references to "pornography" on the Incoming Passenger Cards and the search powers, acknowledging that searches conducted by officers may involve the discovery of "personal or sensitive possessions". Colin Jacobs, chairman of the lobby group Electronic Frontiers Australia says the change appears to have been sneaked under the radar "without any public consultation about the massive privacy issues". "It's hard to fathom what the pressing concern could be that requires Australia to quiz every entrant to the country on their pornography habits, as if visitors would be aware of the nuances of the Australian classification scheme," he said.
Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News staff
First published: Sunday, 30th May 2010 - 9:36pm
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