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US and New Zealand in data exchange project

Staff writer |
The United States government has signed a new data-sharing agreement with New Zealand, boosting the fight against international crime.

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"Agreement on Enhancing Cooperation in Preventing and Combating Crime" is believed to help detect and deter criminals who try to internationally operate more effectively.

"Increasingly, criminal activity spans international borders, requiring close cooperation between law enforcement and immigration agencies around the world. This agreement recognizes information sharing is essential in the fight against global crime. It also builds on a long history of cooperation between our two countries on issues of law enforcement, border management and security," New Zealand Justice Minister Judith Collins said.

Under the agreement, and as permitted by each country's law, law enforcement and border authorities in both countries can share personal information to prevent, detect and investigate crimes with a penalty of one year or more imprisonment.

The agreement will allow authorities to check if fingerprints related to a specific case are also held by their overseas counterparts. If there is a match, they may then share information about the person the fingerprints belong to. If there isn't a match, no information will be shared.

New Zealand is one of 36 countries to sign such agreements with the United States, as part of the US visa waiver program. The program allows eligible travelers from member countries visa-free access to the U.S. for tourism purposes. Nearly 130,000 New Zealand residents travelled to the US in the year to July 2013.

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