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GCSB changes – outrageous anti-democratic

Written By: - Date published: 6:13 pm, April 15th, 2013 - 42 comments
Categories: accountability, class war, democracy under attack, International, john key, slippery, Spying - Tags: , ,

Key has announced  major changes to the GCSB roles that will include assisting business, the SIS and the police in spying against Kiwis.

This is outrageous.  There are good reasons why there has previously been a separation of the roles of the GCSB (spying on non-Kiwis), the SIS (surveillance of NZ residents and citizens), and the investigations into crime by the police.  It is a check against consolidation of power, and against the NZ intelligence services assisting foreign governments in surveillance of NZ citizens, in their own interests.

Using the GCSB to assist the corporates will give further strength to the war on the poor.


42 comments on “GCSB changes – outrageous anti-democratic”

  1. felix 1

    Centralisation of power. Let’s see who’s really a fan of bigger, stronger government.

  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    and help to both public and private sector organisations

    So, we get our own intelligence spying on us for the benefit of foreign corporations – great.

    Well, if you had any doubt about who this government was governing for they should now be well and truly buried. This government is governing for the corporations and against NZers.

  3. Red Rosa 3

    No need to re-invent the wheel.

    A quick trip to the old East Germany should do it. Their Stasi worked just fine, kept the population in line. Employed a lot of people, too. Intercepted all letters and listened to all phone calls… well, as many as they could. Plenty of ex-Stasi people around, they could pop over and help set it up.

    This is truly outrageous.

    More than ever, we need an effective leader of the opposition. But Russel Norman is doing OK.

    • ghostrider888 3.1

      Russell Norman certainly is an effective thinker and articulate communicator with some Excellent people on his team.

      • Rhinocrates 3.1.1

        Agreement squared. This is outrageous indeed, and the crisis now could just provoke Key’s mob into truly repressive action.

        we need an effective leader of the opposition. But Russel Norman is doing OK.

        Right on with the explicit and implicit points. Russel Norman is doing a good job alright, and the “official” “opposition”, Labour In Name Only, is already telling us to bend over and saying that with enough lube it’ll be OK.

        The Greens know what they stand for.

        … and I guess LINO does too – their meal tickets at Bellamy’s.

        If Mumblefuck had an iota of principle, a mere mote of foresight and a splinter of a backbone, he’d be screaming his outrage, but he’s too terrified of offending the Talkback Taleban, because somehow, they’re the key to electoral victory, and principles be damned, he’s all for it with a few weasel remarks about enquiries and controls.

        • RedLogix

          he’s all for it with a few weasel remarks about enquiries and controls.

          I’ve tried to refrain from banging on about Shearer; but yes. Another grey moment from the grey man.

        • ghostrider888

          crossing over to you Rodeo Live

          • ghostrider888

            wow, how do you like them shiney green apples in the summertime. heehee

        • Mary

          Russel Norman was great today the way he said that any minister who’s performed as badly as Key has over the GCSB kerfuffle would be sacked for being so useless. It came across really well and so effectively. Opposition MPs need to say these sorts of things more often instead of pussyfooting around saying things like “If the PM was really serious about X he’d be doing Y”. The opposition need to start saying things how they are and be far more dismissive of what Nact’s doing, especially now when the attacks on the poor and on democracy are in overdrive.

          • felix

            Matthew Hooten said much the same thing on radio nz this morning.

            He reckons whoever came up with the wording for John Key’s answer to Robertson’s supplementary about the GCSB appointment ought to be sacked.

        • Jenny

          But Russel Norman is doing OK.

          Red Rosa

          Russel Norman is doing a good job alright,….


          If Russel Norman was doing a good job, he would be calling for all New Zealanders who are concerned about civil liberties and the right to protest, to rally on the steps of parliament. And he would be challenging the Labour leaders to call out all their members and supporters too.

          No doubt we will hear that protest doesn’t work, from all the usual right wing sources.

          But it is the only thing proven to work when every other democratic outlet has failed.

          It worked over Schedule 4 land. The government quickly did a U turn.

          It worked over Nuclear Ships and apartheid.

          The massive numbers who rallied to support those causes are still there. They must be very concerned at the attacks on civil liberties and the right to protest that allowed them to achieve their victories.

          ….they need to be hammered hard over this – by the Opposition, media and public.


          2, 4, 6, 8,

          We Are All, “The 88”

  4. ianmac 4

    Be interesting to know just how long this has been planned. If it goes back say 3+ weeks then it might mean that Mr Key engineered the fuss.
    But the proposition seems outrageous misfortune to most NZers.
    The ODT Editorial seems even more urgent:
    “….Certainly, there seems much to answer for, which is why changing the law before a proper investigation of process has been carried out would be a gross abuse of power – and could have a gross impact on the average New Zealander. “


  5. Arfamo 5

    This is a serious development, especially given the proposed extension to private sector of some involvement there as well. Really need some leadership from opposition parties in loudly questioning everything about this idea.

  6. GregJ 6

    This is indeed outrageous – it needs widespread critical analysis, comment & condemnation. I would expect all the Opposition parties to oppose this loudly and vociferously.

    All parties with the exception of the Greens* voted for the GCSB Act in 2003 which made it clear that GCSB was not permitted to intercept domestic communication (with an exception when conducting surveillance on a NZ national who may be spying for a foreign power). Serious questions need to be asked on why National has now changed its position & why this situation has changed. It seems National is prepared to throw out the consensus between the major parties that normally works around intelligence and security matters – they need to be hammered hard over this – by the Opposition, media and public.

    *NB. I want to make it clear I’m not saying that the Greens were opposed to the idea of not spying on domestic comms by GCSB by opposing the bill – their objections were about the whole role and raison d’etre of GCSB.

  7. RedLogix 7

    More than ever before I can’t help but imagine the insane jibbering, in four inch high black headlines, from the media if Helen Clark had proposed this.

    This extraordinary power is to be given to a secret government organisation whose ONLY democratic accountability is to the Prime Minister.

    It was not decided whether the changes would retrospectively effect the more than 80 New Zealanders believed to have been illegally spied on.

    Paging burt….

    • ianmac 7.1

      RL: Or the illegality of the Dotcom spying. Maybe that is why the crisis has been set up now to avoid accountibility and Dotcom’s defence..

    • karol 7.2

      On only being accountable to the PM: key has included this:

      There would also be enhanced oversight arrangements, including a wider pool of candidates able to perform the role of inspector general of security and intelligence, meaning they do not have to be a retired high court judge; the inspector general’s office would be more pro-active, rather than review focused, and able to launch its own inquiries more easily; extra staff and resources; legislation expanding the inspector general’s work programme, and more transparency.

      But I’d like to see the small print . Will it still be under the PM’s ultimate authority? Will it include a bunch of people who Key shoulder tapped?

      • ghostrider888 7.2.1

        been consuming a lot of caffeine karol? you have been Mighty productive.

      • RedLogix 7.2.2

        Yes I was thinking of that point when I said democratic accountability. Beefing up the role of the Inspector General is plainly long overdue; that’s nothing more than what probably should have been done 20 years ago. But from a civil rights perspective it means little if the Inspector General is still essentially a creature of the PM.

        That’s the reason why other democracies have been so careful to separate these powers; so that state organisations which can spy on it’s own citizens are subject to substantially greater Parliamentary/Senate oversight than those focussed on ‘external’ threats.

        Now while there is good argument to suggest that in the modern world even that model has broken down somewhat as the whole “Five Eyes” and Dotcom debacle have shown … but Key is proposing to dismantle even that flimsy protection.

    • ghostrider888 7.3

      he and ernie top and tail

  8. weka 8

    What is ‘information assurance’?

    • karol 8.1

      Information assurance? Ask WINZ, the EQC, teachers, ACC…. etc, etc.

    • Huginn 8.2

      From the GCSB’s website, at the top of the list of jobs that it does, comes . . .

      Information Assurance (IA)

      ‘As communications technologies advance, the need to protect information carried by those technologies also grows.

      There are two main reasons to protect information. Firstly the confidential information of the Government of New Zealand needs to be protected from unauthorised disclosure. This means that Government departments can communicate information securely. Secondly there is a requirement to protect information and infrastructure from corruption by malicious ‘attack’, the most common form of which is the humble computer virus.’


  9. Jenny 9

    Not only did the GSCB illegally spy on New Zealand citizens. It looks very likely that they passed the information they gleaned onto foreign powers. A double crime. One of the prime reasons that the GSCB, an agency charged with Foreign Intelligence, was never given power to spy on New Zealanders was to prevent this very occurrence.

    They may claim, that they didn’t know that what they were doing, in spying on New Zealanders was illegal. But the GSBC would have known that supplying that information to foreign powers was illegal and way beyond their brief.

    For this there can be no excuse.


    The Government Communications Security Bureau yesterday refused to say whether personal data known as “selectors of interest” about the 88 New Zealanders was passed to foreign intelligence.

    John Key is contemplating giving the GSCB more powers, even when they publicly and defiantly refuse to divulge the full extent of their current illegal activities.

    With more powers, the law breaking by this spy agency will not only likely continue. But with further powers, the opportunities to commit further illegal acts against New Zealanders will also be extended.

    Before the GSCB are given one more single power…..

    So That we can judge for ourselves whether their law breaking was justified;

    The GSCB should be forced to reveal the names of the victims of their illegal acts, and the extent of the spying engaged against them.

    Based on this evidence, we can judge for ourselves whether, or not, the GSCB can be trusted with even more powers and opportunities to break the law.

    Make no mistake these are law breakers, and as such they need to come clean on their past and current illegal activities. Before they are given even more powers and responsibilities the GSCB need to demonstrate that they have responsibly used the powers that they already have.

    As well as revealing the names of those they illegally spied on the GSCB need to answer the question of whether or not they they illegally passed on the information illegally gained about New Zealanders, to foreign agencies or powers.

    Until these two minimum conditions are met. NO extra Powers can even be contemplated for a not only a secret but an unaccountable organisation.

    • Murray Olsen 9.1

      Law breaking by an intelligence agency cannot be justified. No way José. Never. When information gathered illegally is handed over to foreign interests, both private and public, I think treason is not too strong a word to use.
      The GCSB should be disbanded and anyone involved should be thrown in prison. If this doesn’t happen, how long before they assume that they have a licence to kill? Will Obama return the Dot Com favour by murdering a holidaying Kiwi left winger with one of his beloved drones?
      This world is a nightmare and we must stop this crap. I feel sick.

      • Jenny 9.1.1

        Law breaking by an intelligence agency cannot be justified.

        Murray Olsen

        Indeed Murray. But will anyone be held accountable?

        No. In fact the very same people will be given even more opportunities to break the law.

        • Murray Olsen

          That’s why any party which has any attachment to democratic freedoms needs to stand on dismantling the GCSB and starting again. Why should we pay cold war desk warriors whose first allegiance is to Team America: World Police? If we have security needs, let’s define them very strictly and find new people to look after them. This lot has failed hopelessly.

    • Jenny 9.2

      The new powers give an incredible amount of power to an unaccountable secret agency. That has shown an arrogant disregard for the law.

      People may rightfully ask; “What other laws could the GSCB break if they were given the power to spy on New Zealanders?”

      The most obvious one, is, the law that makes it illegal for our internal secret service, the SIS to covertly spy on our legislators.

      On becoming an MP the SIS are required by law, to close any active file that they may have on that MP.

      The reasons for this prohibition are obvious.

      Legislators who make the laws of the land may be vulnerable to unwarranted pressure and blackmail from the secret authorities, who if they were enabled to snoop on the private lives of MPs would have the power to threaten them with leaking of any of their private and human frailties.

      Things that are not illegal in law, but that MPs may not want revealed. Adultery for instance. Or out of the ordinary personal habits that though not illegal, might be embarrassing if revealed publicly.

      So should the GSCB be given the power to snoop on our MPs as well?

      And what would this mean for our democracy?

      Would the GSCB gaining powers to spy on our legislators, pass on any private and sensitive or salacious information they gleaned on our MPs, to foreign agencies to the possible detriment of this country?

      Even if the new laws being proposed actively proscribed this type of spying, and forcefully declared such activities illegal,would the GSCB respect these laws?

      Going on their past record, the obvious answer is: No, they would not.

      The new powers being proposed for the GSCB give an incredible amount of power to an unaccountable secret agency. That has shown an arrogant disregard for the law.

      As such they should be opposed at every stage of their enactment.

    • RobertM 9.3

      Is the CGSB a Railway’s guard organisation. In 1977 the NZR under Robert Muldoon government ( Colin McLachlan was the rail minister, but signed the papers clearing his desk in half an hour before retreating to best bets and members bar) ordered 75 luxury guards van for one man to ride around the country in first class seating, doing nothing.Just like the CGSB staff, Guards were the lowest order in the rail, military, police, intellectual hierarcy and Rob thought he had to provide for them. Most of the international rail press thought it unbelievable a modern government could order guards vans, but Muldoon declared new rail carriages for Auckland commuters and long distance travellers were unaffordable and not a priority.
      I mean what do the 500 GCSB staffers do. It is obvious all the echelon targets are selected and studied in USA and Canada and that anything interesting is leaked to the Russians by Canadian spies.
      Ask JONKEY what information the latest Canadian traitor gave Moscow from NZ intelligence and miltary dat.a

    • Buunykinz 9.4

      Interesting to note (sorry if any already has) is that GCSB already has the ability to spy on “people in New Zealand”. They are just not allowed to spy on New Zealanders. We all now how tricky John Key can be with language in order to create plausible denial at a later stage. I believe that his refusal to use the word “New Zealander” points to the fact that there are no New Zealanders involved in any of his claims, and therefore current laws more than amply cover these scenarios.

      The GCSB can spy on foreign nationals with links to terrorist groups in New Zealand to their hearts content, either for their own purposes, or to assist external agencies.

      Looks like the media are being dozy as usual and not challenging John Key regarding his use of the phrase “people in New Zealand”, a phrase which in no way justifies these suggested changes.

  10. RedBaronCV 10

    The man must be brain dead. Apart from the fact it is a truly disgusting idea, does this mean we can vote his lot out and then tap Nact phones when Lord Ashcroft comes to visit him or run surveillance over John Bank’s property ( or has somebody done this already?) Tap a cellphone left on the table at a meeting or tap the NzHeralds phone’s instead of getting them turned over in election week.Check up and see what Banks really said about his election expenses?
    How do you think it would be before we put them out of business completely?

    • Murray Olsen 10.1

      The type of people that are in the agencies would probably refuse orders to spy on the right. I don’t think there’s anything for Key et al to worry about.

      • RobertM 10.1.1

        Well of course Air Marshall Ferguson can recall only one case of Terrorism in NZ. The mining of Rainbow Warrior by a weapon of mass destruction, a French naval mine. The terrorist- French military and intelligence officers were captured by Inspector Galbraith. Every western intelligence agency including the partners of GCSB refused to assist us.
        Clearly the GCSB bases are most likely attraction for a terrorist, spy or foreign military power.
        Like the nuclear power submarines Muldoon invited, they invite superpower interest.

  11. ruuptoit 11

    When did we last have Democracy in New Zealand…if ever?

    Key needs to able to spy on his colleagues…

    Shearer needs to be leading the charge against this…really when will we ever get a REAL Government of the people and FOR the people? Do we deserve less?

  12. emergency mike 12

    Yeah but… terrorists… WMDs…

    Think of the children. The children.

  13. Rodel 13

    I knew a supermarket owner in a northern south island town who years ago was paid by the SIS to report on students who agitated. He was asked to mix with students and protest groups and was paid (part time) to report on them.
    As a right winger and active in the local National Party, he had no qualms about his part time ‘spying’ in fact he spoke rather proudly of it, saw it as a noble patriotic activity and genuinely thought he was doing a service to the country and getting a bit of pocket money in the meantime. He was otherwise a nice guy but with the usual right winger’s blinkered and limited inability to see the social picture beyond his own profits.. I was interested when he went bankrupt. His right wing mates didn’t support him then.
    He is still active in the National party but his days of espionage are behind him.

    Heard someone of experience on radio the other day who said it’s not nice to live in countries where governments may always be spying on you. Thanks John for the expanded powers of the GCSB.

  14. Daveosaurus 14

    Does NZ even need two discrete bunches of spooks anyway? Get rid of the SIS (they’re nothing but a laughing stock), give the GCSB their job, tell them they aren’t going to get any more money and will have to make do. The rest of the country has had to deal with that sort of ‘management’ over the last few years.

  15. harpooner 15

    Key mentioning WMD and boat people landings in NZ shows he is taking advice direct from the CIA’s how to guide.

  16. johnm 16

    “New Zealand government to extend spy agency’s powers”

    “New Zealand’s National Party-led government is preparing to use a report into illegal activities by the secretive Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) to hand the agency previously prohibited powers to spy on citizens and residents.”

    “According to defence policy analyst Paul Buchanan, the GCSB is an integral part of Echelon, a network of signals interception facilities run by UK and US agencies, which shares global electronic intelligence among security agencies of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The GCSB receives “considerable” funding from the US—the exact amount is classified—as well as most of its technical equipment.

    The bureau operates the Waihopai satellite communications monitoring base in the South Island and the Tangimoana radio interception facility near Palmerston North. Waihopai, which opened in 1989 and expanded in 1998, continued its operations despite a 20-year defence rift with the US over NZ’s anti-nuclear legislation. The GCSB’s listening posts are staffed by US personnel as well as New Zealanders. New Zealand has access to “5-Eyes” signals intelligence, unique among small countries.”


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