Written By: - Date published: 9:45 am, August 7th, 2013 - 14 comments
Categories: accountability, john key, national, Spying - Tags: colin espiner, Dame Anne Salmond, GCSB, IITP, law society, Peter Dunne, Spying
Yesterday Opposition parties filibustered, and successfully delayed the passage of the Key-Dunne spying Bill (linked article includes clips of some of the speeches). This buys more time to protest, and to put pressure on MPs.
We have never before seen in New Zealand such a broad and ongoing chorus of opposition to government legislation as we are seeing with this Bill. Just yesterday alone…
The Law Society ripped off Peter Dunne’s fig leaf (sorry!!), renewing their objections to his modified Bill:
GCSB Bill remains flawed despite proposed changes
Proposed changes to the GCSB Bill represent minor improvements but do not address the fundamental flaws in the bill and the legislation should not proceed, the New Zealand Law Society says.
Austin Forbes QC, convenor of the New Zealand Law Society’s Rule of Law Committee, says the Law Society has looked at the amendments proposed by the majority of the Intelligence and Security Committee, and has a number of concerns about the wording and scope of the changes. …
“While the idea of a set of guiding principles is potentially a step in the right direction, the Law Society is not convinced that the proposed wording of the principles provides adequate or effective safeguards,” Mr Forbes says.
New Zealander of the Year Dame Anne Salmond spoke up yet again:
Govt must heed Kiwis’ unwillingness to live in spy state
… In Nazi Germany, critics were silenced with the argument, “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” It has been sobering to hear this repeated in 21st century New Zealand. …
In the contemporary world, there are many spy states. According to many commentators, galvanised by a fear of terrorists and al-Qaeda, the United States is heading in this direction. In such states, governments gain extraordinary powers. Democratic rights are stripped away while the risks to security are often outweighed by the harm caused to innocent citizens.
Until recently, I had thought New Zealand governments were largely immune to such temptations. Over the past few months, however, a trail of links between an American corporation (Warner Brothers), the US Government, its intelligence agencies and the GCSB, the Prime Minister’s office and Parliamentary Service has been uncovered by New Zealand lawyers and journalists.
In this shabby saga, which began with an illegal raid on Kim Dotcom’s mansion, a report on the GCSB has been leaked, and an MP and a journalist have been spied on. There has also been a massive breach of trust between Parliament and its citizens. …
The GCSB has been involved in some of the worst of these debacles. In the process, serious questions have been raised about whether a proper degree of independence exists between this agency and those who are charged with ensuring that it does not exceed its legitimate powers. Quite clearly, on a number of recent occasions these checks and balances have ignominiously failed.
In such a situation, it is indefensible to try to ram through a bill that gives the GCSB almost unlimited powers to spy on Kiwis, under political supervision.
Any legislation regarding the security agencies must have the support of the Law Commission, the Privacy Commissioner, the Human Rights Commission, and most New Zealanders, since their rights are at stake.
The two MPs who hold the balance of power on this matter are implicated in the Kim Dotcom/GCSB saga. In any other governance situation, they would be required to declare a conflict of interest and step aside from decision-making.
The great majority of New Zealanders abhor the idea of living in a surveillance society. In a democracy, it is the duty of Parliament to reflect their wishes.
Industry professionals voiced their concern:
IITP chews telco Bill
New Zealand’s Institute of IT Professionals (IITP) has joined Microsoft and Google in criticising the Telecommunications (Interception and Security) Bill.
IITP CEO Paul Matthews told Computerworld New Zealand today that it had reservations about the Bill sponsored by National MP Amy Adams, which if passed by Parliament may force any network to be open to scrutiny by the Government Communications Security Bureau.
“The Institute of IT Professionals supports and recognises the role that the Government Communications Security Bureau plays in national security. However, we also believe this role needs to be balanced,” he said.
“A number of IT industry parties voiced concern at the expanded role the GCSB will have under the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Bill during the law and order select committee hearings this week. These include concerns over the protection of privacy, the potential to stifle innovation, and possible conflicts with laws in the US and we share many of these concerns.
“Passing this law with a razor-thin majority against the wishes of the industry and most New Zealanders is not a good way forward. The government needs to consult more widely to ensure a greater industry consensus before this bill is passed into law. As New Zealand’s independent representative body of IT Professionals, we are very happy to participate in a broader consultation.”
Principled right-wing commentators (and I note that this emphatically does not include the poodle bloggers Farrar and Lusk/Slater) spoke up too. Here’s Colin Espiner:
Free press more important than GCSB
Not bothered by all the fuss down at Parliament over spying? Surely if you’ve done nothing wrong, there’s nothing to worry about, right? Events of the past week have provided the perfect example of the folly of this argument. Governments monitor the movements of people they are interested in, or who have pissed them off. Whether they have done anything wrong is secondary.
The unseemly haste with which the Government trampled over privacy and skirted the law in its hunger to discover who was behind the leak of a damning report into the activities of our intelligence services reveals a growing disregard for one of the cornerstones of Western democracy – a free press. …
It is in this fairly toxic environment that the Government wishes to pass the GCSB Bill, which will make it much easier for our intelligence services to spy on New Zealanders – and for the Defence Force to use the technical capabilities of the GCSB to track people without having to rely on others to do their dirty work. …
It’s a bit rich for the Government to assure voters they should trust our intelligence agencies and officials to take care with their personal information when the experience to date has been precisely the contrary.
Even the ludicrous “ACT on campus” are displaying more integrity than their putative leader:
Saying No to the GCSB and TICS
ACT on Campus Vice President Guy McCallum has today voiced concerns over the controversial spying legislation in an article written for Otago University’s magazine, Critic.
“As a member of ACT, which has supported a government wishing to expand the surveillance powers of intelligence agencies, I’m often asked the question: do I support the GCSB or TICS bills?
“No, I don’t. …
“It is incumbent upon all of our political leaders to oppose these bills. Not just because they will lead to the most obvious of places – state tyranny – but because politicians should be standing up to anyone who claims that such immoral and perverted powers are necessary.”
And on and on it goes.
National MPs are a lost cause.
John Banks is a lost cause.
But Peter Dunne – you can still end this mess.