web analytics

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.

History

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. 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


History

  • Nick Smith must urgently intervene to avoid housing delays
    National must urgently legislate to make the unitary plan operable while allowing a high court challenge against to make its way through the legal process, Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Auckland desperately needs this plan right away to ...
    7 hours ago
  • Kiwis drowning in debt in out of control housing market
    New statistics reveal Kiwis are taking on record levels of debt in order to get into the housing market, as prices continue to outstrip incomes, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Stats NZ has today revealed real estate loans ...
    8 hours ago
  • Planning reform report a turning point?
     A joint report from business and environmentalists on the Resource Management laws could be a turning point for both planning and environmental protection, says Labour’s Environment spokesperson David Parker.  “The four organisations, the Environmental Defence Society, the Property Council, the ...
    10 hours ago
  • Privatisation and deregulation not the solution
    Deregulation, privatisation, and shifting more of the cost onto students isn’t the way to address inequality, lack of innovation and declining participation in tertiary education, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. ...
    15 hours ago
  • Homeownership out of reach for middle income Aucklanders
    New figures show that even middle income Aucklanders are finding themselves unable to afford to buy a first home as National’s housing crisis rolls on, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “New data released by interest.co.nz shows that the lower ...
    1 day ago
  • More toilet cleaners or more tradespeople?
    The Government is not doing enough to help the construction and trades sector meet its workforce demand, instead steering students towards cleaning toilets, says Labour’s Skills and Training spokesperson Jenny Salesa. ...
    1 day ago
  • More cracks appear in health funding
    News that the Waikato District Health Board could lose $2.7 million from its budget because it failed to make an elective target is downright disturbing, says Labour’s Acting Health spokesperson Dr David Clark.  “This is a DHB that has tried ...
    1 day ago
  • Student debt cracks the billion mark
    New figures showing that student loan defaulters have now clocked over $1 billion in debt highlights National's failure to combat spiralling student loan debt, Labour's Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. "Threatening to arrest returning student loan borrowers at the ...
    2 days ago
  • Foreign Students just a commodity to National
    National MP Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi has confirmed that his party sees international students as nothing more than a commodity, says Labour's Immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. "Mr Bakshi’s appalling comparison of some students to 'faulty fridges' that should be returned to ...
    3 days ago
  • Tolley’s spin on Education spend doesn’t add up
    National’s spin about school funding won’t wash with parents who are paying more and more of the cost of their kids’ education every year, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins.  “All the spin in the world can’t hide the fact ...
    3 days ago
  • National not facing up to export challenge
    “The latest export data from Statistics New Zealand paints a picture of an economy which is not paying its way in the world, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Exports fell 9% - led by milk powder exports falling to ...
    3 days ago
  • Correction over Talley’s statement
    Labour’s Workplace Relations spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway has been advised by AFFCO Ltd that AFFCO is not advertising for staff in the Manawatu through MSD as stated in a press statement released earlier today.  “I have been advised by AFFCO that ...
    6 days ago
  • Minister, cut your losses – withdraw this doomed Bill
    Local Government Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga’s request for a five month extension on the report back date for the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2) is an admission that the Bill is fundamentally flawed, says Labour’s Local Government Spokesperson ...
    6 days ago
  • Coleman’s cuts create crisis
    Mental health services in New Zealand are in a state of crisis with Youthline saying that calls for extreme depression doubled last year, says Labour’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr David Clark.  “About 150 young Kiwis are missing out on help ...
    6 days ago
  • Government helping Talley’s to break workers
    The Ministry for Social Development appears to be assisting Talley’s-Affco replace experienced workers effectively locked out by the company, say Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni and Workplace Relations spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. “MSD is advertising for meat processing workers for ...
    6 days ago
  • Electives lag due to $1.7 billion hole
    The lag in hip and knee replacements is a direct consequence of the Government’s $1.7 billion underfunding of health, says Labour’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr David Clark.  “A comprehensive study by the University of Otago says that the rate of ...
    6 days ago
  • Speech to Master Builders’ Constructive conference
    Today’s all about being Constructive. And that is good because I believe there is a hunger out there for positive solutions. We must be able to believe there can be a better future. ...
    6 days ago
  • Māori Party housing plan complete failure
    The Māori Party’s housing plan to put more Māori into more homes has been a complete failure with fewer than five loans granted per year, says Labour’s Maori Development spokesperson Kelvin Davis. ...
    1 week ago
  • Fund IRD better to go after tax avoiders
    National’s Tax Working Group used the following graph (p30) in 2010 as part of their justification to cut the top tax rate. The big peaks around the top tax threshold were evidence of a suspiciously high number of taxpayers ...
    GreensBy robert.ashe
    1 week ago
  • Pasifika youth ignored by the Government
    The Adolescent Health Research Group’s new report on the wellbeing of young Pacific people shines a spotlight on the Government’s failure  to deliver any “brighter future” for them, says Labour’s Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio.  “Their research shows ...
    1 week ago
  • Police in the provinces are dissatisfied
    Police in the cities of Gisborne, Napier and Hastings are a lot more unhappy than their big city cousins says Labour’s Police Spokesman Stuart Nash.     “In fact the top four districts for enjoyable work within NZ Police are ...
    1 week ago
  • Govt action needed after Wheeler holds
    The Reserve Bank Governor’s warning that “excessive house price inflation” is posing a risk to financial stability puts the pressure back on the Government to take action to address the housing crisis, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Graeme Wheeler’s ...
    1 week ago
  • Minister confirms – new ministry only about abuse
    ...
    1 week ago
  • Silver Ferns Farms decision a tragedy
    The rubber stamping by the Overseas Investment Office of the Shanghai Maling buyout of Silver Fern Farms is a sorry day for the once proud New Zealand meat sector, says Labour’s spokesperson for Primary Industries, Damien O’Connor.  “Generations of Kiwis ...
    1 week ago
  • Benching Nick Smith first step to Kermadec solution
    Side-lining Nick Smith must be the first step in sorting out the Government's Kermadec debacle, says Labour's Fisheries Spokesperson Rino Tirikatene. “Last week Labour called for Nick Smith to be removed from further negotiations with Te Ohu Kaimoana over the ...
    1 week ago
  • Parents, schools, teachers oppose bulk funding
    Overwhelming opposition to the National Government’s school bulk funding proposal is unsurprising and Hekia Parata should now unequivocally rule out proceeding with the idea, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Bulk funding could only lead to bigger class sizes or ...
    1 week ago
  • MBIE gives up on enforcing the law
      The Government must provide labour inspectors with the resources they need to enforce basic employment law after reports that MBIE is only prosecuting the worst cases, says Labour’s Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway.  “Today’s news that MBIE ...
    1 week ago
  • West Coast population declines amid bleak economic forecast
    Despite the country experiencing record population growth, the number of people living in the West Coast fell, highlighting struggles in the region from low commodity prices and a poor economic forecast, says Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson David Clark. “The latest ...
    1 week ago
  • Recovery roadblocks cause for concern
    Strong pressure on mental health services, a flagging local economy and widespread issues with dodgy earthquake repairs are all causes for concern for people in Canterbury according to a new survey, says Labour’s Canterbury spokesperson Megan Woods. “Today the CDHB’s ...
    1 week ago
  • Motel purchase must not kick people onto the street
    The Government’s purchase of a South Auckland motel to house the homeless must come with a promise that the current long term tenants will not be kicked out onto the streets, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “It is bizarre ...
    1 week ago
  • Not everyone singing along to so-called rock star economy
    The Westpac McDermott Miller Confidence Survey shows there is serious unease about the economy’s ability to deliver benefits to many New Zealanders, despite the Government trumpeting headline figures, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “According to this survey a significantly ...
    1 week ago
  • Youth no better off under National’s “guarantee”
    John Key’s Youth Guarantee is such a spectacular failure that those who undertake the programme are more likely to end up on a benefit and less likely to end up in full-time employment than those who don’t, Leader of the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • More low-skilled students becoming residents
    New figures showing international students now make up nearly 40 per cent of all principal applicants approved for New Zealand residency and that their skill level has fallen dramatically, are further evidence that National’s immigration system is broken, says Labour’s ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 35% of offshore speculators paying no tax
    Offshore investors are aggressively exploiting tax breaks to pay no tax on their rental properties according to IRD data released by Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “35% of offshore investors are paying no tax on their properties, and are pocketing ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Friday fish dump stinks
    This government has dumped bad news on a Friday to try to avoid political scrutiny in Parliament, says Labour’s Environment spokesperson David Parker. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • OECD report card: National must try harder
    The OECD report on education shows there’s much more to be done for young Kiwis, Labour’s education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Kermadec stoush shows Maori Party double-standards
    The Māori Party’s reaction to the trampled Treaty rights and the Government’s lack of consultation on the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary reeks of the same arrogant mismanagement of the unpopular Maori land reforms, Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri says. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Flawed fish dumping calls
    The finding that MPI failed to properly enforce the law even when it had evidence of fish dumping seriously damages the trust and credibility of the Ministry, the industry and this Government, Labour's Fisheries Spokesperson Rino Tirikatene says. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Sidestepping Smith should be side-lined
    Nick Smith's arrogance and disrespect towards Māori is putting the future of the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary at risk and he needs to excuse himself from further negotiations with Te Ohu Kaimoana, Labour's Fisheries spokesperson Rino Tirikatene says. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government must respond to cash for jobs scam
    Urgent Government action is required to halt  the emerging cash-for-jobs immigration scandal that is taking hold in New Zealand says Labour’s Immigration Spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway.  “Stories of rogue immigration agents scamming thousands of dollars from migrant workers are just further ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government dragging its feet on surgical mesh
    Jonathan Coleman is dragging his feet over any action to protect New Zealanders from more disasters with surgical mesh, says Health Spokesperson Annette King.  “The Government’s pathetic response is to claim all will be fixed by a new regime to ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s baby number app goes gangbusters
    An interactive tool that celebrates Labour’s achievements in health over the decades has become an online hit, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “Since the tool was launched last night, 18 thousand people have used it to find their baby ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Real disposable income falls in last three months
    Kiwis are working harder than ever but real disposable income per person fell in the last quarter thanks to record population increases, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson said. ‘In Budget 2016 the National Government said that what mattered most for ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Baby number app celebrates Labour achievements
    Labour has launched an interactive tool that allows New Zealanders to take a look back at our achievements in health over the decades, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “Today is the 78th anniversary of the Social Security Act 1938, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Legal experts unpick Māori land reforms
    One of New Zealand’s top law firms has joined the chorus of legal experts heavily critical of the controversial Te Ture Whenua Maori Bill, adding more weight to the evidence that the reforms fall well beneath the robust legal standards ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Industries most reliant on immigration worst offenders
    The industries most reliant on immigration are the worst offenders when it comes to meeting their most basic employment obligations, says Labour’s Immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway.  “The industries that are most reliant on immigration are Hospitality, Administration, Agriculture, Forestry and ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Time to remove law that discriminates against sole parents
    It’s time to repeal a harmful law that sanctions those who do not name the other parent of their child, Labour’s Social Development Spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni says. “Every week, 17,000 children are missing out because their sole parent is being ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government handling of Kermadecs threatens Treaty rights
    ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Prime Minister should give Police Minister some backbone
    The Prime Minister should condemn the ridiculously light sentence given to Nikolas Delegat for seriously assaulting a police woman, Labour’s Police spokesman Stuart Nash says. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government listens to Labour on family violence
    Labour is pleased the Government has finally acted on strengthening a range of measures against family violence, says Labour’s spokesperson on Family Violence Poto Williams.  “Some of the latest changes including a new family violence offence of non-fatal strangulation is ...
    2 weeks ago


History


History


History