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Covid-19 Minister Chris Hipkins has sought advice from officials on potential changes to the law that could address lingering privacy concerns with the NZ Covid Tracer app. Photo / Bevan Conley
Covid-19 Countermeasure Chris Hipkins has sought advice from officials on potential changes to the law that could address lingering privacy concerns with the NZ Covid Tracer app.
It comes after a prominent data expert and Privacy Commissioner John Edwards suggested changes to the law would ensure agencies can’t use tracking data for spying or criminal investigations.
The New Zealand app remains an important tool for helping tracers quickly trace the close contacts of people infected with Covid-19 – but at the same time, gathering large amounts of personal information from users.
The government has moved to ease surveillance concerns by creating “decentralized” applications, leaving location data – such as those loaded via QR codes – and interaction information, entered via Bluetooth tracking, on people’s phones until needed for contact tracing.
While this approach, widely used by other countries, helps protect user privacy, there is still little legislative protection against data used for other purposes by Governments.
Dr Andrew Chen, a researcher at Koi Tū: The Center for Informed Futures based at the University of Auckland, said one concern is that police or intelligence agencies could request a warrant for a phone call and then retrieve tracing data from it.
The Singapore government recently sparked protests when it passed a law allowing police to access data from the TraceTogether app for serious crimes such as murder, rape and drug trafficking.
In New Zealand, Chen noted that a recent police review of emerging technology suggests police have the tools and the ability to search data on cell phones.
This month, he wrote to Hipkins and Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield, suggesting New Zealand could take similar steps to Australia, which introduces amendments that define who and who is not allowed to use tracer app data, and for what purposes.
That effectively means that intelligence agencies that accidentally collect tracking data from cell phones have to erase the data and can’t use it.
But Chen told the Herald that there were still concerns surrounding the two scenarios.
“One of them is that law enforcement officers get access, as happened in Singapore, which is a major concern,” he said.
“The other thing is, just because the NZ Covid Tracer app is well designed, it doesn’t mean that other digital contact tracing tools are designed as well.”
For example, he said, there were about 30 different providers for QR code digital contact tracing in the past.
“We know, last year, there were companies that collected personal information from contact tracing and then used it for marketing purposes.
“So it’s actually nice to have some rules that specifically state data collected for the purpose of the Covid-19 pandemic should only be used to respond to it.”
Chen previously suggested that the Government could amend the Public Health Response Act, but now believes the reforms would fit better elsewhere in the current law.
In a written response to Chen last week, Hipkins noted that Bluetooth location and contact data were recorded centrally only when given to the tracker – and even then, people can still decide if they want to release it.
“With the relatively small number of cases in New Zealand, there are very few people whose data is stored centrally,” said Hipkins.
“This data is well secured in the ministry system and the ministry has done only to use it for contact tracing purposes.”
Furthermore, he said, the application has protection that limits the time period for data storage.
Manually scanned and recorded locations are stored on the user’s phone for 60 days and then deleted automatically, while the Bluetooth interaction key is stored on the user’s phone for 14 days and then deleted.
Although data from apps uploaded to the ministry’s system is kept longer because some of it becomes part of a person’s health records, the ministry has committed to deleting it “in a specific category” at the end of the pandemic – including all contact details.
Hipkins claims that the risk of being used for surveillance is low, and has been told that the threshold for agencies forcing access to it is “quite high.”
The police also told Chen that they did not – and would not – seek or access any data from the app to aid in the investigation.
However, Hipkins acknowledged that the existing safeguards were “incomplete” – and pointed to similar suggestions for reforms being made by privacy commissioners.
“While digital contact tracing options are now more limited than ever before, I notice nothing is preventing people from using other existing options, or preventing new ones from emerging,” Hipkins said in the letter.
“I understand that the ministry has published standards and certification regimes for applications that use Government QR codes that include privacy expectations.
“However, alternative approaches are not prohibited, and for that reason the Government supports ensuring there is protection for all digital applications and tools used for contact tracing.”
He has asked the ministry for advice on possible legislative changes – a move that encourages Chen.
“It’s great to look at. At the same time, I think it’s important to convince people that the risk here is low – and that we should all use this app as much as possible.”
Stonehenge Aotearoa is a full-scale adaptation of Stonehenge – and a stargazer’s paradise. Photo / Stonehenge Aotearoa.
While previously redundant tourist destinations are becoming more attractive and accessible to the average Kiwi with international borders closed, that doesn’t mean we won’t be competing for space in the busy summer months. Everyone has the same agenda, which means it’s also time to consider alternatives. Of course, there are some experiences – like traversing the volcanic landscape of Tongariro Crossing, or having a cool drink at Hobbiton’s Green Dragon Inn – that just can’t be duplicated.
But others can. If you do a little research, you’ll find that many of New Zealand’s popular attractions have lesser-known partners and are often cheaper. Here are six close siblings of some must-do activities in the country.
Dig your private spa in the sand
An hour south of Raglan, Kawhia is a quiet seaside village with a harbor full of peas, oysters and mussels. It’s also where you’ll find one of the lesser known hot spring beaches. (Yes, there is more than one.)
The drill is exactly the same as in the Coromandel. At low tide, drive to the end of Ocean Beach Rd, where you’ll find a black, soulless beach above. You have to bring your own shovel. Watch for signs of steam rising from the sand and start digging. Once you reach the hot springs of Te Puia Springs, soak in the knowledge that somewhere across the island, lots of people are screaming for the same thing.
Try one of the world’s best burgers
Oh, Fergburger. Even if you’ve never seen the queues for this Queenstown institution, you’ve probably read blog posts or articles all about the burgers: how juicy the meat is, how tender the bread is and how amazing it is. it’s open for almost 21 hours a day.
What they don’t get romantic about, however, is how long you have to wait in line. If you are too hungry to wait in line, all you need to do is head over to the Devil Burger. Offering a similar product, at the same price, that is what the locals are for.
Find kiwi in the wild
Thanks to its remote location and difficult sea crossings to get there, Rakiura (Stewart Island) remains relatively flawless compared to other popular tourist destinations. However, it is still struggling under the load of attractive visitors; pre-pandemic, about 44,000 people were visited per year. That’s about 111 tourists for each resident.
The island’s main attraction is the rare opportunity to see kiwis in the wild. It’s home to around 13,000 of New Zealand’s 68,000 kiwi, and the subspecies that live here can sometimes even be seen during the day for insects by the beach.
The catch? If seeing kiwi is your only goal, travel long distances without the guarantee you’ll see it.
Alternatively, there are a number of fenced predator-free shelters on the North Island and South Island that offer nighttime kiwi tours, including Wellington’s Zealandia and Waikato’s Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari. But the two hour tour presents a very limited window of time for viewing elusive birds, which is why it is so worthwhile to spend a night on Kāpiti Island.
This predator-free island is home to around 1,400 tiny looking kiwis, presenting one of the most reliable opportunities to spot them. Starting at $ 395 per adult ($ 230 per child), Kāpiti Island Nature Tours kiwi-sightseeing packages include transportation, accommodation in a glamping tent or cabin, and guided night tours.
Hike one of New Zealand’s iconic walks
When Lonely Planet released its Ultimate Travel List earlier this month, 13 Kiwi destinations qualified, with Fiordland National Park topping the 29th position.Most visitors opt to take a boat tour through Milford Sound, but that area came first. undeniably the Milford Track. One of New Zealand’s 10 Great Walks, dubbed “the world’s best walk,” takes hikers through valleys carved by glaciers, past ancient rainforests and cascading waterfalls.
However, its reputation means it’s expensive (the hut costs $ 70 per person per night alone) and very difficult to book. Earlier this year, spots on track for the 2020-2021 season were almost sold out within 10 minutes of opening the booking system.
However, even though there are only 10 “Great Streets” in New Zealand, there are dozens of “great roads.”
The closest connection to the Milford Track is the Gillespie Pass Circuit, a 58 km loop best suited for experienced hikers with river crossing skills. Located near Mount Aspiring National Park, it also takes four days, reaches an altitude of 1,600 meters, and has serviced lodges along the way. And on publication, reservations are still available for the hut (only $ 20) during the holiday period.
Experience the magic of collecting glowworms
Waitomo is not the only place where large numbers of glowworms gather. For a cheap and fun version of the same, you can head to the DOC-run Waipū Caves in Northland, which are completely free to access.
If you don’t want to stray far from Waitomo and be in it for glowworms (not caves) sign up for the Lake District Adventures night kayaking tour ($ 109). On a four hour sunset excursion, you will paddle along the shores of Lake Karapiro. As dark falls, you’ll drift silently on the Pokaiwhenua Stream, your path only lighted by glow worms. The effect is very subtle, and with fewer people, your oar hitting the water is the only sound you’ll hear.
Stargazing in the Dark Sky Nature Reserve
Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve is an area known for its low levels of light pollution and many nights with bright stars. Currently, it may be the only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere – but it won’t last long. Wairarapa is currently preparing to become the world’s largest Dark Sky Reserve, a designation which is expected to come later this year.
This is where you can experience some of the most unique and personalized astronomy tours in the country. For example, Becky Bateman of the local Under the Stars will bring her telescope straight to your accommodation. Then there’s Stonehenge Aotearoa, a full-scale adaptation of Stonehenge. If you show up on Friday or Saturday at 8:30 p.m., you’ll have the opportunity to look through the telescope and learn how the structure works. General admission is $ 15.
For more New Zealand travel ideas and inspiration, visit newzealand.com
ISLAMABAD – While the US has threatened to ban Chinese video-sharing app TikTok and India has shut it down, Pakistan – ostensibly China’s all-weather friend – can cancel it. But not for reasons of privacy and data security, but because of “immoral content”.
Pakistan’s Information Minister Shibli Faraz recently told the media that Prime Minister Imran Khan believes that social media apps, especially TikTok, should be banned as they undermine social values.
The remarks came two days after the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority, the government regulator, said it approached TikTok, owned by Beijing technology giant ByteDance, to remove “vulgar, indented, immoral and nude content” for viewing domestically and warned that the action will be performed. taken the opposite.
The PTA issued a final warning to TikTok on July 21 over concerns about “immoral” content, while Bigo Live – a less popular Singaporean app – was temporarily blocked for the same reason.
TikTok has become a worldwide sensation with video clips of 15 to 60 seconds in length. In Pakistan, it has become the third most downloaded app after WhatsApp and Facebook, generating 4.6 million downloads this year, according to market research firm Sensor Tower.
However, the PTA is under pressure after receiving more than 500 complaints, mostly obscenity based. In July, a Punjab provincial lawmaker submitted a resolution in the legislature to ban TikTok nationwide while several residents asked for the same provincial court.
“The regulators have not finalized any decisions regarding the ban and TikTok has blocked more than 93,000 accounts in Pakistan for having offensive content,” a PTA official told Nikkei Asia, who requested anonymity due to the government’s ban on speaking to the media.
But analysts believe that complaints of obscenity are primarily directed at women who use the platform to express beliefs that deeply patriarchal societies dislike. Islamabad banned Tinder, Grindr and three other dating apps on September 2 for spreading “immoral content.”
The Khan-led government has recently come under strong criticism for the alleged gang rape of a mother traveling with her children on a highway in Punjab province earlier last month. Additionally, a girl in the eastern city of Lahore was allegedly gang-raped in July by three men, including a “friend” she met on TikTok.
Usama Khilji, director of Bolo Bhi, a digital rights group based in Islamabad, said banning TikTok for being “vulgar” distracted public attention from the government’s own failure to protect women from sexual violence.
“On the one hand, the government is promoting the digital face of Pakistan, but how will this work under the threat of a ban?” Khilji asks Nikkei. “Banning TikTok will not only hinder the development of Pakistan’s digital economy, but also reduce freedom of expression, increase censorship and reduce digital rights.”
TikTok and other similar apps have faced strong backlash in Pakistan and other conservative Islamic countries such as Bangladesh, mainly because of “blasphemous” content, analysts say.
Blasphemy is a very sensitive and inflammatory issue in Pakistan compared to other Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia and Iran, said Muhammed Israr Madani, head of the International Research Council for Religious Affairs, an Islamabad-based think tank.
Pakistan previously banned Facebook for hosting allegedly blasphemous content for two weeks in 2010, while YouTube was unavailable from 2012 to 2016 due to an amateur film about the Prophet Muhammad causing global unrest. “In Pakistan, individuals are often accused of blasphemy because of content posted on social media and therefore technology companies need to be more careful about free speech and the country’s anti-blasphemy laws,” Madani told Nikkei.
However, not all Muslim-majority countries feel the same way as Islamabad.
In Indonesia, Tiktok and other similar apps are subject to anti-pornography laws. The communications ministry said it blocked 591 TikTok posts in 2018, mostly for “vulgar clothing.” However Jakarta does not plan to ban the app due to privacy or questionable content.
“Indonesia continues to follow policies taken by other countries regarding the TikTok ban for security reasons. But Indonesia will not take similar steps just because other countries are doing it,” Grata Werdaningtyas, director of international security and disarmament at the foreign ministry, told reporters. last month. “In general, as long as there is no evidence of violation of the law in Indonesia, social media applications can continue to operate in Indonesia.”
For Pakistan, China’s close ally and core partner of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, proposing a TikTok ban is more surprising, especially when India and the US have targeted the app, experts say.
Days after border clashes between India and China that killed at least 20 Indian soldiers, New Delhi banned TikTok in July among other Chinese apps due to data security concerns.
Citing India’s move, US President Donald Trump issued an order in August that would effectively ban TikTok and WeChat, another Chinese app, from the American market due to national security concerns. A federal judge in Washington, however, temporarily suspended the ban on September 28, just hours before the ban was put into effect.
Meanwhile, Beijing has banned Twitter, YouTube, Google and Facebook, and restricted access in China to foreign news and information.
“Pakistan will not interfere with China by banning TikTok at a time when Beijing has tense relations with Washington and New Delhi,” Raees Ahmed, a Karachi-based academic who focuses on Sino-Pakistan relations, told Nikkei.
Instead, Pakistan has been pressuring TikTok to remove inappropriate content – especially those related to blasphemy – which has caused security problems in the country, Ahmed said.
“Proposing a TikTok ban will not harm Sino-Pakistani relations as Islamabad is taking cues from Beijing to control the free flow of information,” Bolo Bhi’s Khilji also added.
Additional reporting by Erwida Maulia in Jakarta.