Written By: - Date published: 7:18 am, August 6th, 2013 - 78 comments
Categories: accountability, john key, Media, Spying - Tags: andrea vance, bradley ambrose, GCSB, jon stephenson, Peter Dunne, Spying
The evidence on why John Key and his government cannot be trusted with their spying power just keeps adding up. That power is used indiscriminately and inappropriately. Journalists spied on so far include Andrea Vance, Jon Stephenson, and now, so we learned in the weekend, Bradley Ambrose:
Police seize Cuppagate texts
Lawyers are demanding a review of how police intercept private communications after a photo-journalist’s cellphone logs and messages, including exchanges with a lawyer, were obtained in and inquiry instigated by the PM.
Police seized the text messages of a photo-journalist involved in the “teapot tape” saga, including exchanges with his family, his lawyer and Herald on Sunday journalists. Auckland University associate law professor Bill Hodge describes the police actions as “mind-boggling”. …
Texts between Ambrose and his lawyer Ron Mansfield were among those seized by police, in what Mansfield says was a breach of lawyer-client privilege.
The revelation comes hard on the heels of the discovery that logs of Fairfax political journalist Andrea Vance’s phone calls and emails were supplied by the Parliamentary Service to the Prime Minister’s inquiry into GCSB leaks, and the allegation that the NZ Defence Force asked its US counterparts to track the communications and movements of war correspondent Jon Stephenson.… The text messages appear to confirm that the recording was inadvertent, not a deliberate News of the World-style conspiracy as Key had claimed.
… But Auckland University associate professor Bill Hodge said it was “mind-boggling” police would intercept text messaging over such a minor charge, especially when the Evidence Act 2006 provided clear protections for journalists to guarantee the freedom of the media. “Why in hell would they have those, for what investigatory purpose?” he asked.
Big Brother’s agents keep bumbling on
Unleashing of the oppressive power of the state in trivial incidents should alarm all democrats.
Agents of the state have always had an insatiable appetite for snooping. … The Big Brother crisis rapidly enveloping John Key’s Government is deliciously highlighting that our present masters are carrying on an old tradition. If not very adroitly. Every day brings another bumble.
Yesterday, the Herald on Sunday exposed how the police obtained, with a search warrant, a dossier of 323 text messages sent and received by Bradley Ambrose, the cameraman at the centre of the ridiculous “Teagate” incident during the 2011 election campaign. … As it turns out, the emails are said to prove Mr Ambrose innocent of any deliberate intent to record the meeting. But included in the emails was correspondence with his lawyer, which should have been protected.
The incident shows how easy it is for the police to get a search warrant on a minor charge. Law professor Bill Hodge calls it “mind-boggling”, which is a good summary of not just this incident but the procession of invasions of privacy that has been unfolding under the present Government.
That the oppressive power of the state has been unleashed to intimidate the media in two trivial incidents should alarm all democrats, especially as Mr Key seems naively oblivious to the potential repercussions. …
If ever there was a time for an inquiry into privacy and the role of our spy agencies, it is now. With a growing number of journalists and politicians addicted to revealing every skerrick of gossip and insight they come upon, on Twitter and Facebook anyway, there must be many outsiders wondering what all the fuss is about.
Or, as Mr Key has said a hundred times, if you’ve got nothing to hide, what have you got to worry about?
He only has to think back to his angry reaction to finding the microphone on his table at the Epsom tea party to know the answer to that facile quip.
Everyone has secrets they prefer not to share – particularly not with the all-powerful Big Brother John Key and the state apparatus.
John Key accused the media of “News of the World tabloid tactics” when in fact it was his own enquiry that was using them. He clearly doesn’t believe his own “nothing to hide nothing to fear” nonsense. The full power of the state was used to protect the “privacy” of his media stunt. But no privacy for Vance, Stephenson, Ambrose, or the rest of us.
This government under John Key does not use its spying powers competently or appropriately. There is no guarantee that some future government will not be even worse. The Key-Dunne spying Bill should be rejected pending a proper enquiry and proper safeguards. Peter Dunne, please take note.