- Date published:
10:00 am, October 3rd, 2014 - 28 comments
Categories: accountability, auckland supercity, capitalism, democracy under attack, john key, Public Private Partnerships, same old national, slippery, Spying - Tags:
So, John Key has quietly (secretly?) shifted the already dodgy SkyCity deal. Meanwhile, in Auckland, the Auckland Transport Authority has apparently done a deal to sell oversight of all of our daily lives to a US corporate, and thereby rendering the data accessible to the US state surveillance agency , the NSA.
Unveiled in May last year, the initial deal between SkyCity and the government was extremely controversial. John Key’s government agreed to SkyCity building a new convention centre, to be paid for by SkyCity. In exchange, the government would allow extensions to the usual licensing agreements with respect to the SkyCity casino, and a lot of extra pokie machines and gambling tables.
The deal was locked into government legislation so that any future government could not change the deal before 2048.
A few months later, it was revealed that TVNZ land, owned by the government (or as they say, owned by tax payers) was sold to SkyCity so that the convention centre could be built on the land. The justification was that the convention centre would be great for Aucklanders, New Zealanders and the economy.
Today, David Fisher reports the latest dodgy change to the already the dodgy new SkyCity deal – a deal that was meant to be unchangeable by future governments. SkyCity is actually going to build a new hotel on the land that was once TVNZ land: something that is purely for the profiteering by the owners of SkyCity. Fisher reports:
SkyCity is building its new hotel on land surrendered by the taxpayer for the creation of the $402 million convention centre, the Herald can reveal.
The decision to build a hotel on the former TVNZ property came just three months after the casino company bought the land – the result of three years campaigning for it on the premise it was needed to build the convention centre.
As justification, John Key uses his nothing-to-see-here pose:
A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister said Mr Key was comfortable with the process and the changes proposed.
Such a non-explanation is way beyond not good enough. Here we have a PM who avoids being held to account, with a slippery, bu existentially barefaced, thumbing of his nose to NZ citizens . This is totally anti-democratic. Essential Key is supporting corporate rule of the country’s laws and regulatory system.
This news comes a day after we learned that the surveillance of just about every movement of most Aucklanders’ daily lives has been sold to US corporate, Hewlett-Packard.
Surveillance technology that uses high definition cameras and software that can put names to faces and owners to cars is coming to Auckland.
The surveillance has the capability to also scan social media and news websites.
Auckland Transport, the regional transport provider, announced the multi-million dollar deal in June, and California’s Hewlett-Packard Development Company said today it has the contract.
“The system will leverage data from a variety of sources, including thousands of security and traffic management cameras, a vast network of road and environmental sensors as well as real-time social media and news feeds,” HP said.
Of course, Auckland Transport justifies this in terms of safety and combating crime. They also claim there will be limites on the kinds of surveillance undertaken.
However, Idiot/Savant reports that Hewlett-Packard’s own press release contradict such statements:
Auckland Transport have since denied some of the claims, saying that its all about traffic-flow management and that ANPR and facial recognition will not be used (and that no data will be shipped overseas to the NSA), but its all there in HP’s press release:
In the first phase of the project, Auckland Transport will focus on improving public safety. Law enforcement will use HP Intelligent Scene Analysis System and license plate recognition for accurate identification and scene analysis for dangerous activities and analyzing safety threats from over 2,000 cameras deployed within Auckland. Going forward this information will be linked with rich insight from social media news sources to provide a comprehensive solution that can proactively identify breaking trends and respond to critical safety incidents for cyclists and transport users.
Of course, as the NSA can tap into any communications going into the US, this means that they will be able to access the data about Aucklanders going to HP in California.
Auckland Transport is ultimately accountable to Aucklanders. However, the way Rodney Hide set up Auckland Supercity Council, means that it tends to no be directly accountable.
Aucklanders should be directly consulted on such a big change to enable the surveillance of their daily lives. The money deals with an offshore corportate, that enables such spying on Aucklanders should not be the result of deals beahind closed doors. And the contradictory public statements need to be cleared up.
As Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn concludes:
…we really have to ask why Auckland Transport is paying for a system with these capabilities (even if they won’t be used yet), why its installing a (turnkey) mass-surveillance system without any public mandate. And we need to start looking at whether any of our other local authorities have been doing the same.