It was recently revealed that the New Zealand government has been working with an Israeli-based surveillance firm called Cobwebs Technologies. The company has been accused of spying on people and has been kicked off Facebook. While the government has not revealed all of the details of its relationship with Cobwebs, it has been confirmed that Immigration New Zealand is one of the agencies involved.
Meta, formerly Facebook, reported it had identified "customers" of Cobwebs in at least seven countries including New Zealand. The OIA documents released this week show Immigration NZ has been a customer of Cobwebs for about two years.
Immigration authorities in New Zealand have been using a controversial surveillance tool to monitor the social media activity of people applying for visas. The tool sifts through public posts and uses artificial intelligence to collect data including people's "political information" and "religious preference" as well as banking, health and family relationships information for immigration. It is unclear how extensively the tool has been used or what criteria Immigration NZ has used to determine who should be placed under surveillance.