People in New Zealand can request information held by the government (official information) and can expect it to be made available unless there is a good reason to withhold it.
The Official Information Act 1982 (OIA) enables citizens, permanent residents, visitors to New Zealand, and bodies corporate registered or with a place of business in New Zealand, to make a request for official information held by government agencies, including the Government Communications Bureau (GCSB).
Your request should be as clear and specific as you can possibly make it. Before making a request, please check our other sources of information listed below.
We would like:
If you make your request by phone or in person, we will either confirm it in writing ourselves or, if we are not sure what you are seeking, we may ask if you would be able to put it in writing.
Before making a request please check our other sources of information. You may find the information that you require is already available:
We will acknowledge your request and are required by law to give you our decision on your request as soon as possible, and no later than 20 working days after we receive your request.
If we need more time to make our decision on your request, for example, if you are requesting a lot of information, we will let you know and will give you an idea of how long it will take. You can complain to the Office of the Ombudsman if you are not happy with our decision to extend the time.
We will also let you know within ten working days if it is necessary to transfer your request to another agency or Minister of the Crown.
Here is further guidance on how we will respond to your request.
You can see data on the number of requests that we receive each year and the timeliness of our responses on the Official Information Act statistics part of SSC’s website.
Requesting official information is free, although we can charge a reasonable amount if it will take a lot of work to supply the information requested. Find out more in our guidanceon how we will respond.
If you are not happy with our decision to charge, you can complain to the Office of the Ombudsman.
You may wish to contact us in the first instance to see if we can resolve the issue.
You can make a complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman if you:
These concerns can relate to the withholding of information, extending the timeframe to respond to you, any charges for providing the information that you have requested, delays in providing you with a decision or the information, or your request being transferred.
The Office of the Ombudsman can investigate and review our decision and may make a recommendation to us if it is considered appropriate.
The objectives of GCSB are to contribute to the national security of New Zealand; the international relations and well-being of New Zealand; and the economic well-being of New Zealand.
Everything that we do needs to be in accordance with New Zealand law and New Zealand’s human rights obligations, and is subject to a very stringent warranting and oversight regime.
We aim to be as open as possible about our work. Due to the sensitive nature of what we do, however, revealing details about what we do or do not know can prejudice New Zealand’s interests. We could be the target of co-ordinated information requests from people who want to know if they are under investigation, and who may share responses with each other to draw conclusions about what we are or are not aware of or the nature of our capabilities.
This means that sometimes we may need to respond to a request for information with “we can neither confirm nor deny the existence or non-existence of information”. The following points can, however, provide reassurance about the protections that are in place for New Zealanders: