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Don’t let them be sidelined: Surveillance Bills

Written By: - Date published: 9:03 am, July 22nd, 2013 - 38 comments
Categories: accountability, capitalism, democracy under attack, john key, phil goff, slippery, Spying, us politics - Tags:

While the MSM is focused on the whole scary central NZ quakes and shakes, let’s not forget the GCSB and related surveillance Bills.  There’s plenty of coverage in the margins today on these Bills.  According to Audrey Young, Phil Goff says:

Former Foreign Minister Phil Goff says “tweaking” of the GCSB bill by Prime Minister John Key will not be enough to overcome the suspicions of a wide cross-section of New Zealanders.

People wanted to be assured that the expanded powers of the foreign intelligence spy agency to spy on New Zealanders would not be abused and that they would be used for targeted surveillance, not mass surveillance.

“No matter how John Key tweaks the particular legislation in front of him, he won’t overcome the suspicion, not of a small group of paranoid people but a wide cross-section of New Zealanders who are asking justifiable questions about how the bodies work, how they should work and why they are needed.”

Young continues:

Mr Key has Act’s support but doesn’t yet have the guaranteed numbers to pass the bill, let alone the large majority of votes that such bills conventionally receive.

A wide range of people and commentators have expressed concerns about the bill, including Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff, Human Rights Commissioner David Rutherford and Law Commission president Sir Grant Hammond.

Commentators with strong libertarian values such as talkback host Leighton Smith and former Act MP Deborah Coddington also have concerns.Public meetings and protest marches are planned for this week.

Key has agreed to a couple of changes to the GCSB Bill, but Goff doesn’t buy it:

Mr Goff said that was still toothless and if Mr Key wanted to pass the bill with wider support he had to do more. He said if Mr Key was to persuade Labour why it was important to pass the bill quickly, it should have a sunset clause – and a review of intelligence services was needed before the bill expired.

Labour should continue to oppose the Bill, not bow to a pass-now-and-change-later option.

Meanwhile, another Herald article supports Key’s desire to have, as PM, total control over all NZ’s surveillance agencies, domestic and foreign-focused, amalgamated under one system:

Dr James Veitch – former intelligence specialist at Victoria and Massey Universities – is one of the few people who publicly supports the GCSB bill. This is an extract from his submission to Parliament’s intelligence and security committee considering the bill.

There are at present two standalone intelligence agencies – the Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS) and the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).

But the NZ Intelligence Community (NZIC) is defined as the NZSIS, the GCSB, together with the National Assessments Bureau (NAB) and the Intelligence Co-ordination Group (ICG).

The latter two are both part of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

In addition, there are nine intelligence entities within the police and the Organised and Financial Crime Agency (OFCA). There are also four other intelligence entities: the Domestic and External Security Group (DESG) within DPMC; the NZ Directorate of Defence Intelligence and Security (DDIS) and the Joint Geospatial Support Facility (JGSF), both within Defence; and the National Maritime Co-ordination Centre (NMCC), within Customs.

And then Key will pronounce himself Emperor?

Meanwhile, Bomber explains while people should demonstrate against the GCSB  Bill this Saturday:

In the lead up to the mass demonstrations that will occur around NZ this Saturday at 2pm, I want to explain why certain groups in NZ should be marching, the first are Unions and every Union member.

Every member of the CTU, PPTA, EPMU, Unite, MUNZ, NZEI, RMTU, NZDWU, CANZ, NZNO, First Union, SFWU, Actors Equity and PSA should be at the protests because it will be Unions and Unionists that will have these spying powers turned upon them – just like they have always had the intelligence networks turned against them.

And provides information about a public meeting in Auckland this Thursday evening:

Coalition to Stop the GCSB Bill – Urgent Public Meeting this Thursday 25th July, 7pm at Mt Albert War Memorial Hall (Cnr New North Road and Wairere Ave)

– Dr Rodney Harrison QC – who presented the Law Society submission to
select committee
– Kim Dotcom – the most high profile victim of illegal GCSB spying
-Thomas Beagle – from Tech Liberty – concerned with civil liberties
-and now Dame Anne Salmond

We can keep our eyes on more things than one.  This one needs to maintain a central focus. It’s about democracy, and against further consolidation of the power of the international, “neoliberal” corporate elites.



[Update]  Protest poster as on The Daily Blog:

Stop GCSB Bill protest 27 July 2013 poster

38 comments on “Don’t let them be sidelined: Surveillance Bills ”

  1. Bill 1

    People wanted to be assured that the expanded powers of the foreign intelligence spy agency to spy on New Zealanders would not be abused and that they would be used for targeted surveillance, not mass surveillance.

    Nice of Goff to announce that I’m favour of expanding the powers of the GCSB to spy on me, my neighbours or whoever if some conditions are met. I’m not – not any circumstances.

    Does that place me in a minority or is Goff out of touch?

    • Murray Olsen 1.1

      Goff would want the same powers and I doubt he’d even alter the list of suspects to be spied on very much at all. He should be in ACT.

  2. mickysavage 2

    The Veitch comments verge on the incomprehensible. Of course efficiency is good and if a smaller number of entities can do the job with less complexity then who would argue against that. But he has no analysis whatsover on the implications that merging the entities would have on civil rights. Maybe he thinks that rights of privacy are not relevant?

    • Bill 2.1

      .. if a smaller number of entities can do the job with less complexity then who would argue against that.

      Erm -me, I would…will. The government is meant to represent us. If our representatives want to spy on us, then not only should a very high bar be set for such activity, but it would be better if was ringed with complexity insofar as that might serve to keep them ‘on their toes’ and potentially diminish the chances of any ‘lazy’ mission creep.

      • Colonial Viper 2.1.1

        Complexity is not a good idea; it is usually designed by people who want to place technicalities, loop holes and backdoors in the system.

        You have a straight forward system of empowered oversight, transparency, tightly scoped warrants and judicial review with strict penalties for failure to follow due process.

        Previous NSA whistleblowers have suggested basic steps like ensuring that data collected is encrypted and cannot be decrypted without a specific warrant, and that data collection is limited to 2 degrees of separation from a specific warranted target.

        • Bill

          Elegant complexity? No, okay…I see your point. But whatever, the best mechanism(s) to ensure the same end result, of definately not making it easy and ‘run of the mill’ to spy for the government or government agencies, need to formulated and set firmly in place.

          • Colonial Viper

            No problem with that. More routine surveillance should be run by the police not the SIS, and be open to close scrutiny like any other police activity.

            • Murray Olsen

              What’s happened to the police who illegally spied on Tuhoe? Where’s the close scrutiny of which you speak?

  3. karol 3

    Yes. Both those articles are open to more analysis, Bill & micky. I’m short of time this morning, and was contemplating just linking to the articles on open mike – but, as I said in the heading – these issues need to be kept front and centre.

  4. Colonial Viper 4

    I’ve posted this link previously. However this USA Today interview with former NSA whistleblowers is a must watch for anyone with a serious interest in this topic. Particularly as NZ is a “2nd party” intelligence partner with the USA, one of the “Five Eyes” alongside Canada, Australia, UK.


  5. Tracey 5

    “PM, total control over all NZ’s surveillance agencies” – BUT wasn’t he unable to keep a track on the one he had????

    My died in the wool capitalist national/act voting father decsribed the PM this way on Saturday night when the GCSB stuff came up

    he said he was getting sick of the Pm sitting there with a “supercilious grin on his face”.

  6. There is a danger that the Spy debate itself will create a babble of liberal platitudes that hides the Key point. Spying? Too much, too little, tweak, creep, march, vote, blah blah blah.
    The ruling class acts secretly to spy on us so that it can prevent any democratic challenge to its power and wealth. It knows that owning the media and education, and dividing us into warring factions is not going to be enough. Sooner or later it will be facing a Tahrir or Tottenham.
    State surveillance treats each and every one of us as potentially an enemy of the state.
    And they are right. Driven into poverty, occupied by an imperialist military, denied our basic rights, surveiled, racially profiled and/or shot, each of us is potentially capable of conspiring to overthrow such a dictatorial regime. They know this and they are ready. We are not.
    All spying by a capitalist state has been proven as inherently NOT to protect democracy but to protect the property of the 1%.
    To think that the global spy system is somehow an aberration of capitalism is delusional. It is necessary for the survival of capitalism.
    Our response to the new spy laws should be to demand that spying by the capitalist state be abolished by abolishing the capitalist state and capitalist society itself.

    • Tracey 6.1


      The only thing scarier than BlIp’s roll call of Key lies is the lack of a list of the ways that this government has eroded democracy.

      quietly, starting with refusing OIA requests, using urgency more than prior governements and building confidence…

      even the very lengthy extension of the SKY Casino licence beyond normal extension and attempt to entrench it in legislation (entrench is wrong word because it has a legal definition) and contract to prevent democratic processes altering it…

    • Murray Olsen 6.2

      Yep. I say abolish all the spy agencies. If capitalism has to go to achieve that, so long, it hasn’t been good to know ya.

  7. muzza 7

    Dr James Veitch – former intelligence specialist at Victoria and Massey Universities

    Intelligence specialist……

    NZ, Aust, Canada, UK – Commonwealth Countries.

    America – Apparantly does not have a head of state, being the Monarch. – I’m quite sure the UK controls America, and always has. The, special relationship , which is how the US/UK relates to itself, read Bush/Blair, Cameron/Obama, has not been drilled out, IMO.

    Independence – tosh, the bankers ensured America was never independent!

    • emergency mike 7.1

      What a weird article from Jim Veitch. Just blah blah blah about how all our intelligence agencies need to be united ’cause that would be more efficient. Not a word about the issues of civil liberty, privacy, and the potential influence of our ‘5 eyes’ partners in our domestic affairs which are the issues at hand.

      I studied under Veitch at Victoria when he was all about looking behind the official message and questioning official motivations.

      “…since 9/11 the international security environment has changed dramatically and has called for fresh approaches to security, surveillance and intelligence…

      This restructuring would need to be undertaken in consultation where appropriate and where necessary with overseas partners whose sensitivities and expectations – governed by existing compliance requirements, agreements and treaties – would need to be respected and honoured.”

      Now he is the official message.

      • karol 7.1.1

        I studied under Veitch at Victoria when he was all about looking behind the official message and questioning official motivations.

        Wow. That’s an interesting observation. One more voice co-opted!

    • Colonial Viper 7.2

      I’m quite sure the UK controls America, and always has.


  8. AmaKiwi 8

    Please get your friends and neighbors to these rallies.

    Bring the kids. Tomorrow’s activists are your children and grandchildren enjoying today’s protest events.

    2 pm, Saturday, 27 July, at a city near you.

  9. Rosetinted 10

    Some quotes from The Independent source above – after 12 years of silcence – that deal with different practices, all troubling.

    This newspaper has obtained a copy of a handbook, used by the blaggers, that helped to build up an entire illicit sector in the commercial raiding of government departments.

    The manual has been in the possession of the authorities since 2001. It formed part of a wider “Baird Project” report compiled by The Information Commissioner’s Office, Benefits Agency (now part of the Department for Work & Pensions) and Inland Revenue on the growing threat to private data from illegal methods used by teams of tracing agents….

    The revelations come a day after this paper revealed that the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) is refusing to identify the blue-chip companies that commissioned corrupt investigators to break the law. Soca is resisting demands from the Home Affairs Select Committee for the names to be made public, on the grounds that to do so might “undermine the financial viability of major organisations”….

    Some of the businesses using the tracing agents were the forerunners of the Payday Loans sector and their clients were pursued relentlessly for debts. One of the first cases of illegal tracing involved a young mother who was tracked by private investigators to a woman’s refuge and was confronted on the doorstep….

    Other clients for the blagging firms included high-security Category A prisoners who “were able to obtain information capable of persuading witnesses to change their evidence against them or ‘nobbling’ juries”, according to information in intelligence reports compiled by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which formed part of the Baird investigation…

    In another case, investigated by the ICO, a private investigations agency – believed to have been hired by a foreign bank – was suspected of having orchestrated a violent robbery on the close female relative of a “target” to obtain phone contacts that could locate the individual. The woman was bitten by an attacker and lost her mobile phone and address book. Bogus calls were subsequently made to several people listed in the contacts files…

    The raid on London Scottish’s Manchester offices on 19 November 2000 “caused a great deal of consternation not only with them but within the financial industry as a whole,” said the report. “While they claim they are giving every assistance they are in fact being deliberately obtuse, and using every legal delaying tactic in the book.” Investigators in the Baird team expected summonses to be issued against the bank for aiding and abetting the unlawful procurement of information – but no such action was ever taken.

  10. Veutoviper 11

    Well surprise, surprise – not!

    Dunne is apparently now saying that he will support the GCSB Bill with ‘major changes’.


    Dunne said Key had agreed to a number of changes which included:

    * specific legislation to add any agencies allowed to request assistance from the GCSB. The current proposed bill only required an Order in Council, which is not voted on by Parliament

    * the watchdog overseeing the GCSB, the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security, must be informed when a warrant is put on the register relating to a New Zealander

    * an annual report from the GCSB on the number of times it has assisted other agencies

    * annual public hearing of Parliament’s closed door Intelligence and Security Committee to discuss financial reviews of the performance of the GCSB and the SIS

    * an independent review of the security services in 2015, and then every five to seven years

    Key had already conceded to establishing a set of guiding principles into the legislation and the establishment of a two person advisory panel to assist the work of the Inspector-General.

    Dunne said he would also work with Justice Minister Judith Collins on privacy invasion issues raised by the Law Commission in 2010.

    He wanted a standard definition of private communication and meta-data across all legislation, including the GCSB and SIS acts, and the Crimes Act and the Search and Surveillance Act. “

    So what did Dunne get in return?

    The same article quotes Shearer as saying in respect to the Bill

    “Instead we are putting through legislation which I don’t believe is as broad reaching as it should be and will give New Zealanders the reassurance that everything’s being done that should be done.

    “It addresses some issues but not the bigger, broader issue of the fact it is only very much targeted at GCSB and doesn’t look at the wider intelligence community.”

    What the hell does he mean by the statement I have bolded? That the Bill should go further ?

    • Murray Olsen 11.1

      Given that the Bill increases GCSB powers, that reads as if Shearer thinks all the other agencies should also have their powers increased. I can believe that he would think that, but even if he didn’t, we really don’t need a PM with the communication skills of a flatulent lemming.

  11. Rodel 12

    Peter Dunne on Tv..
    ‘When you’ve got a willing buyer and a willing seller……’ -What a disgusting attitude to democracy and to New Zealanders…

    • unclemuzza 12.1

      Couldn’t agree more! I was almost physically sick when I heard him say this!

  12. Tautoko Viper 14

    When is the vote in Parliament likely to be and what is the situation with the case against Banks?

    • Veutoviper 14.1

      The vote in Parliament is likely to be in the next week or so.

      Banks is not back in court until IIRC about 15 August.

  13. Pete 15

    This is going to be buried in the next few media cycles by the royal baby. Damn, that Key is a slippery beggar.

  14. Blue 16

    Yes he did well planning that pregnancy.

  15. Tamati 17

    Just listened to a really interesting BBC podcast about state spying and cyber warfare. Doesn’t directly apply to NZ but provides an interesting perspective.


  16. tracey 18

    buying and selling that nails key and dunne right there

  17. Sable 19

    For better or worse its going to pass. What irks me is Labours relatively apathetic attitude when it comes to this issue.

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