GCSB is watching you? Won’t ‘confirm or deny’

Written By: - Date published: 10:46 am, May 15th, 2013 - 34 comments
Categories: accountability, john key, national/act government, same old national, Spying, telecommunications - Tags: ,

When the Kitteridge Report revealed that 88 New Zealanders had previously been spied on illegally by the GCSB, it was suggested concerned people ask the GCSB if they were one of the 88.  Now people who followed that suggestion have received replies, with a won’t “confirm or deny” line, according to RNZ.  In response to an RNZ question, GCSB boss Ian Fletcher issued a statement which, in RNZ’s words said:

that to confirm who or what the agency might have been investigating, or not investigating, would potentially identify law enforcement or national security priorities, which is not appropriate.

Valerie Morse, one of those arrested in the Urewera raids, is one of those who received the non-committal reply.  She is contacting the Privacy Commissioner and is also considering starting a class action.  However, these actions may not result in the GCSB releasing the information.  However,

A barrister specialising in privacy law, John Edwards, says once people take their claims to the courts or the Privacy Commissioner there may be no grounds for the agency to withhold the information.

He says it may have to come clean on cases where it was monitoring people as part of a police prosecution.

http://podcast.radionz.co.nz/mnr/mnr-20130515-0710-gcsb_refuses_to_tell_people_if_theyve_been_illegally_spied_on-048.mp3

Innocent people have good reasons to worry about their privacy being breached by the GCSB.  mickysavage posted on Open mike this morning that he had written to the GCSB asking if he was one of the 88 they spied on, and the replies indicate such concerns.

Opposition MPs have raised questions about the possibility of the GCSB, part of the five country Echelon network, providing private information on NZ citizens to foreign intelligence agencies.  Toby Manhire wrote on the issues in the NZ Herald on 10 May.  He questioned the wisdom of the NZ government rushing through legislation to make illegal spying by the GCSB on Kiwis, legal.

As Winston Peters argues, the bill leaves the door dangerously open to the extension of these powers to unspecified “other agencies”. It provides potential for mission creep. It makes it easier to spy on New Zealanders, tap our phones, read our emails.

It’s not as though the existing legislation is adequate; it did and does need overhaul. And it’s not as though the new bill is without merit. There’s a good argument for using the GCSB inventory of surveillance tools in domestic situations. Oversight undoubtedly needs beefing up. But this is no way to do it. The sensible, responsible approach is a comprehensive review of NZ’s spy agencies.

Part of the concerns about “mission creep” involve the ultimate oversight of operations lying with the PM, as outlined by Chris Trotter in his response to the Kitteridge Report.  There is also the concern around the shift from  a focus on physical threats to NZ security, to “economic security”.  This partly includes the need to ensure NZ businesses are not damaged by foreign sabotage.

However, when surveillance of NZ citizens are pulled into the system, it raises concerns about the use of the GCSB to support the power of wealthy international corporates.  This concern partly arises out of the Kim Dotcom arrests, seemingly to support the interests of the powerful US motion picture industry and it’s attempts to extend their control of digital copyright. It’s also of concern when the government supports the profiteering of corporates over the interests of less powerful, low income New Zealanders, as in the dirty SkyCity deal, and the TPPA negotiations.

[Update]

Waitakere News post on the details in a GCSB letter that responded to a request for information on being/not being one of the 88.

All this neither confirming nor denying made me feel like I am a nuclear weapons capable US warship.

The GCSB has since confirmed that the grounds are contained in sections 27(1) PA and 6 (a) and (c) OIA.  These  allow the GCSB to withhold information if it thinks the disclosure would prejudice the security or defence of New Zealand or the international relations of New Zealand or that it would prejudice the maintenance of the law, including the prevention, investigation, and detection of offences and the right to a fair trial.
But this response raises more questions than it answers.
Read more at the above link.

34 comments on “GCSB is watching you? Won’t ‘confirm or deny’”

  1. ghostrider888 1

    88.8 / 81

  2. fender 2

    People who make the request will end up being spied on if they weren’t spied on earlier. The GCSB need to be swamped with 4 million requests as punishment.

  3. Excuse me for linkwhoring but I have put some details up about the response (http://waitakerenews.blogspot.co.nz/2013/05/the-gcsb-will-neither-confirm-nor-deny.html). I presume that this is a standard response to everyone but if so it is really ham fisted. If I am not on the list of 88 then a simple confirmation would be fine. If I am on then they would need to justify the response.

    If this is a standard response and could be legally justified it would probably mean that the GCSB would never have to disclose any information to anyone ever.

    • karol 3.1

      Thanks, micky. Your post adds some significant information and analysis. I will add the link to my post.

    • From waitakerenews:

      “If I am not one of the 88 I do not see how the disclosure would prejudice New Zealand’s security or defence or prejudice the maintenance of law.”

      Disclosure would imply that the GCSB had been acting illegally. It’s like taking the 5th in US terms.

      http://www.thefreedictionary.com/take+the+Fifth+Amendment

      • One Anonymous Knucklehead 3.2.1

        Reality check: that’s not what the GCSB is arguing, and in any case the admission has already been made.

        • McFlock 3.2.1.1

          I reckon UT should invoke Common Law and forcibly (but Legally) search GCSB premises according to the Law of the Land.

          That would be a reality check…

        • Ugly Truth 3.2.1.2

          Reading for comprehension isn’t your strong suit, is it?

          • One Anonymous Knucklehead 3.2.1.2.1

            What the fuck are you blithering about, dickcheese?

            You waffled: “Disclosure would imply that the GCSB had been acting illegally…”

            So, comprehending that you are talking shite as usual, I pointed out that they have already admitted acting illegally.

            Why don’t you convene a tribunal and try them in the people’s court of common law, as a demonstration of impotence and futility?

    • The Baron 3.3

      Lawl, the GCSB would have to be pretty bored and desperate to wanna track Greg Presland.

      Waving a few homemade placards does not make you an enemy of the state, Greggles.

  4. McFlock 4

    I assume the logic is that if they said “no” then if someone who was being or had been (because the information would still sit there waiting for pattern matching or corroboration) spied on asked, the GCSB would have to say “no” to them, too, or give the game away. Which makes the question somewhat futile.

    So rather than saying “no” to everyone, they just refuse to confirm or deny.

    • Agreed McFlock.

      I am sure this is the logic used but they did not have to tell everyone how they responded to others’ requests. Besides the legislation requires that the disclosure to me of my private information would prejudice the security of NZ etc. It would not. Drawing a conclusion from an analysis of a large number of responses may but is that my problem?

      Of course the other possibility is that I am an enemy of the state …

      • One Anonymous Knucklehead 4.1.1

        No. The argument is that knowledge of whether or not you were targeted for surveillance would prejudice security, by providing insight into the GCSB’s priorities.

      • Anne 4.1.2

        Well, I have another argument to make:

        the other possibility is that I am an enemy of the state …

        Now, what if the criteria as to who is an enemy of the state has been quietly altered without our knowledge and acquiescence. What if it now includes anyone who is engaged in activities designed to bring down the NAct govt. That would include all Labour and Green activists from North Cape to the Bluff. It would also include most Standardistas! So, there you go mickysavage you’ve got lots of company. 😛

        No, it’s a serious matter, but the whole thing… from Dotcom through to the proposed legislation has its humorous side.

        Oh, what a tangled web they weave when they practice to deceive.

    • grumpy 4.2

      ….so….if Valerie Morse asked if she had been under surveillance and they replied “no”, could she then sue them for not taking her profession as an “activist” seriously?

      • Rhinocrates 4.2.1

        Or if they said “yes”, could we ask if they or the SIS paid as much attention to, say, Kyle Chapman or the Artist Formerly Known As The Business Round Table?

  5. AmaKiwi 5

    Labour will not un-do this legislation because it will give them enormous power when they are the government.

    This is the people versus their rulers. It is not about Left versus Right.

    • Murray Olsen 5.1

      Agreed 100%. Labour governments are just as interested in playing spooks as National are. As Nicky Hagar showed, it’s “carry on as you were.” Possibly the only difference is that they may gather information that doesn’t get back to a Labour PM, so they don’t have to not recall anything.

  6. AmaKiwi 6

    How does this story end?

    Visit the USA, if you dare.

    If you don’t dare, go to your library and get some books about Russia, China, Nazi Germany, etc.

    • Dv 6.1

      OR go to the library and get books out how to cook with pressure cooker

    • Colonial Viper 6.2

      Russia is not that problematic.

      The Soviet Union pre Gorbachev…that’s a different story.

  7. muzza 7

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8338853.stm

    #2 in the picture top right – Atmospheric aerosols (more effective, and less expensive) – Pontification, of course!

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/4171591.stm

    Dimming, nothing to do with the geo-engineering then, of course, or is it. Geo-engineering could be classified as pollution, which the article names as a contributor , to the global dimming phenomenon

  8. Chooky 8

    It is an issue of ferreting out the ferrets…

  9. Rhinocrates 9

    Considering the last Labour government’s handling of the Zaoui affair (with Goff playing a major role), the expansion of state surveillance powers and the erosion of civil liberties not something I expect to be reversed should the um, ah, what’s his name, I mean it might be or not, Shearer led, possibly…

Links to post

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • National’s campaign of deception an affront to democracy
    Voters this week have a clear choice between Labour’s optimism and honesty, or rewarding National’s campaign of relentless lies, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Day after day National has been deliberately spreading lies about Labour, our intentions and what ...
    12 hours ago
  • National’s economy scorecard: D for drift
    New Zealand’s economy is failing the very people it is supposed to uplift, characterised by stalled productivity, exports going backwards and a Government content to let it drift, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. “Voters have a clear choice ...
    12 hours ago
  • Another day – another health crisis
    News today that the emergency department at Waikato has turned 180 patients away is another crisis for the Government and its besieged health system, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark. “It’s astonishing that the Government has had to rely on ...
    15 hours ago
  • Labour will get tough on loan sharks
      Labour will take a tough stance on loan sharks and make sure that the Commerce Commission is properly resourced to protect Kiwi consumers, says Labour’s Consumer Affairs spokesperson Michael Wood.   “People on low incomes must be protected from ...
    17 hours ago
  • GP letter more evidence of failure in mental health
      A letter of complaint by medical practitioners to the Ministry of Health and Capital and Coast District Health Board underlines how badly patients are being let down by mental health services in Wellington, says Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern.  “The ...
    1 day ago
  • GP letter more evidence of failure in mental health
      A letter of complaint by medical practitioners to the Ministry of Health and Capital and Coast District Health Board underlines how badly patients are being let down by mental health services in Wellington, says Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern.  “The ...
    1 day ago
  • Tax cuts when kids go hungry shows National’s lack of moral compass
    National’s campaign of tax cuts that give $400 million to the top 10 per cent of earners, at a time when 120 Kiwi kids every year are being hospitalised for malnutrition, shows they have lost their moral compass, says Labour’s ...
    2 days ago
  • Freight being shifted off planes as fuel crisis worsens
    Export freight is being shifted off flights because of the Government’s failure to manage the risk of disruption to jet fuel supplies, says Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson Stuart Nash. “It has been revealed to Labour that non-perishable export freight is ...
    2 days ago
  • Apologise now Jonathan
    Health Minister Jonathan Coleman must apologise for his part in a $2.3 billion shortfall that has contributed to delays in cancer diagnosis and treatment, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark. “All the Minister could say in an interview this morning ...
    2 days ago
  • National’s health report card shows need for new plan
    From increased GP fees, to kids getting sick from cold homes, to denial of important surgeries, National’s underfunding of health has hurt Kiwi families, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern.   “It’s time to invest in the health of ...
    2 days ago
  • Eye clinic wait downright dangerous
    The fact that 9,500 Kiwis are waiting one and a half times longer than they should to get follow-up eye appointments is unacceptable and dangerous, says Labour’s Health Spokesperson David Clark. “These people are entitled to the reassurance that if ...
    2 days ago
  • National has serious questions to answer over Auckland fuel crisis
    Thousands of air travellers looking for answers to Auckland Airport’s fuel crisis should be demanding the National Government come clean over its failure to secure fuel supply for the airport, says Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern.  “There are serious questions the ...
    3 days ago
  • Come clean on trade before the election
    In the two days before the election, New Zealand MFAT negotiators will attend a negotiations meeting in Japan on the successor to the failed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), now called the TPP-11. The negotiations are shrouded in secrecy but we ...
    GreensBy Barry Coates
    5 days ago
  • National unravels on transport
    The release of extraordinary information showing that the East-West link could be the most expensive road in the world, at $327 million per kilometre, shows that National is fiscally reckless and out of ideas on transport, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson ...
    5 days ago
  • Saudi cover-up a perversion of democracy
    The Government has been exposed as dishonest after it was revealed that  they were wrong to claim they paid out $11 million dollars to a Saudi businessmen after legal advice, says Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Parker.  “OIAs revealed on ...
    6 days ago
  • Labour supporting Te Reo Māori in schools
    Labour will support a future where New Zealanders from every background will have the ability to use Te Reo Māori in everyday conversations, says Labour’s Deputy Leader and Māori Development spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “Labour will commit to a target that ...
    6 days ago
  • Is National planning a secret fuel tax?
    Sources suggest National is considering a secret fuel tax to fund its controversial Roads of National Significance (RONS) programme, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Michael Wood. “While the Government keeps up its stream of lies about Labour’s tax policy, sources indicate ...
    7 days ago
  • Labour’s plan for West Coast prosperity
    Labour’s regional development plan for the West Coast will build on its strengths in engineering and tourism, while delivering a much-needed upgrade to the Buller Hospital, says Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern.  “Labour’s vision is for a thriving regional New Zealand, ...
    7 days ago
  • Labour committed to fair and progressive tax system
    Labour is committed to a tax system where everyone pays their fair share and where we start to address the imbalances that have fuelled the housing crisis, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson and Labour’s Revenue spokesperson Michael Wood. "Today ...
    7 days ago
  • A challenge to Bill English
    ...
    7 days ago
  • Flavell’s fake news an insult to Māori voters
    A desperate Te Ururoa Flavell has resorted to fake news about Labour’s position on his unpopular Ture Whenua reforms, says Labour’s Ikaroa-Rawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri. ...
    1 week ago
  • National’s tax cuts reckless and irresponsible
    It is time for Bill English and Steven Joyce to stop the scaremongering and lies, and front up to New Zealanders about the impact of their tax cuts, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “Bill English has no credibility on ...
    1 week ago
  • Calculator shows Labour’s Families Package delivers
    Labour has launched a new online calculator that show how much extra families with kids will get from Labour’s Families Package, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. “Families can go to www.labour.org.nz/calculator and see how much better off they ...
    1 week ago
  • Strengthening New Zealand’s identity through Labour’s media and film policy
    Labour has today launched its media and film policy aimed at strengthening New Zealand’s identity and providing sustainability for the industry, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour to invest in parents and babies
    Labour will fund an additional 100 Plunket and Tamariki Ora nurses to increase the help available for vulnerable parents and babies, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. “It’s so important that our children get the best start in life. ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour to build affordable homes and state houses in Hawke’s Bay
    Labour will build a mix of 240 affordable KiwiBuild starter homes for first home buyers and state homes for families in need in Napier and Hastings, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. “In 2016, the populations of Napier and ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour pledges more for Whānau Ora
    Labour will strengthen the oversight of Whānau Ora and provide an extra $20 million over four years to improve outcomes for whānau and families, says Labour’s Deputy Leader Kelvin Davis.    “We’ve created a new position of Whānau Ora Reviewer ...
    1 week ago
  • National’s housing band aid
    Throwing subsidies at an under-supplied housing market is one last desperate bid by National to be seen to do something about the housing crisis, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “First home buyers have been the collateral damage of National’s ...
    1 week ago
  • Housing, families, education and environment top priorities in Labour’s first 100 days
    Labour will take urgent action in its first 100 days in office to expand support for families and students, make rental homes warm and dry, find solutions to the mental health crisis and accelerate efforts to clean up our waterways, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour pledges to unlock funding for Te Hiku sports hub project
    The Labour Government will inject nearly $3 million into the Te Hiku Sports Hub project, to help realise a much-needed health and recreational facility for the Far North, says Labour Deputy Leader and MP for Te Tai Tokerau Kelvin Davis. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s plan to get job seekers into better work
    Labour will provide real support for people looking for work by increasing the amount of money someone can earn before their benefit begins to reduce, reinstating training incentives, and putting a renewed focus on upskilling and training, says Labour’s Social ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour sets strong target and plan for climate action
    Labour will set a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and take the necessary steps to achieve it, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern.  “Climate change is my generation’s nuclear-free moment. We have to take our place ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Are education cuts missing in National’s Fiscal Plan?
    National needs to explain why its plans for cuts to school transport have not been announced in its fiscal plan, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins.   “Buried in the Pre-election Budget update is a $5m a year cut to ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Joyce must come clean on Health and Education funding
    Steven Joyce needs to front up to New Zealanders and tell them whether he will fund health and education to meet increasing cost pressures, or risk seeing services cut and costs increase for parents, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.  ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Housing crisis is National’s legacy
    Reports of tenants languishing in boarding houses for years because they cannot get a state house is yet more evidence National’s legacy is the housing crisis, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “We used to pride ourselves in this country ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour calls for release of report into civil defence flaws
    The National Government must stick by its word given to other political parties and release a technical report before the election addressing critical flaws in New Zealand’s civil defence capability, Labour Civil Defence spokesperson Clare Curran said today.  “Cross party ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Credibility shot as Government runs out of steam
    New Zealanders are witnessing the desperation of a government clinging to survival, evidenced by policy on-the-hoof, dodgy maths and dirty politics, says Labour MP Phil Twyford. “New Zealand had been hoping we’d seen the end of dirty politics, but what ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Steven Joyce must apologise to New Zealand
    Steven Joyce needs to front up to New Zealanders and apologise for his patently false and cynical attack on Labour’s Fiscal Plan, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Every respected economic commentator has come out and said that Labour’s Fiscal ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bill English didn’t answer because the Oreti is badly polluted
    Last night Bill English was asked by Paddy Gower in the Leader’s Debate: “Which river did he swim in as a kid, and is it now polluted?” Bill English named the Oreti River, but did not answer whether it is ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Nats put out dodgy numbers – again
    National’s promise to increase the number of elective surgeries to 200,000 is bizarre, given Jonathan Coleman has claimed 200,000 electives are already being performed, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Prime Minister’s Award to encourage young people into trades training
    Labour will introduce a $2,000 award for the best pupil in vocational courses in each public secondary school, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. “We know there’s huge demand for trades workers, particularly in the building sector, where construction ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Not another Nick Smith wild goose chase
    Only the election on September 23 can save the country and the RMA from Nick Smith, say Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford and Environment spokesperson David Parker. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government supresses Climate Change report
    The Government has deliberately sat on a critical Climate Change report for 5 months which they must now release, election or no election, says Labour’s Climate Change spokesperson Megan Woods.  “I want the report released immediately, so that New Zealanders ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Joyce gets it wrong on Labour’s Fiscal Plan
    Labour’s Fiscal Plan is robust, the numbers are correct and we stand by them despite the desperate and disingenuous digging from an out-the-door Finance Minister, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Steven Joyce has embarrassed himself. This is a desperate, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Making renting secure and healthy
    Labour will move to make renting a more stable and healthy experience for families, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • English is plain wrong on productivity
    Bill English's claim that productivity has grown pretty well in New Zealand is wrong, and flies in the face of evidence from his own Government and the view of most commentators, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “New Zealand has ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Bill’s wishful thinking on housing crisis no solution
    The Prime Minister’s declaration of victory over the housing crisis, made during last night’s TVNZ Leaders’ Debate, is more than a little premature, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “You have to give Bill English marks for optimism, but when ...
    3 weeks ago