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.

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

  • We need to work smarter not longer
    The charade of this Government’s sound economic management is unraveling. Misleading GDP figures, pumped up by property speculation and high immigration, have given the impression that all is well, masking our continued productivity decline compared to OECD countries. In fact, ...
    GreensBy Barry Coates
    1 min ago
  • Statement on John Key’s resignation
    Labour Party Leader Andrew Little has acknowledged John Key’s contribution to Government.  “John Key has served New Zealand generously and with dedication. Although we may have had our policy differences over the years, I respect the Prime Minister’s decision to ...
    3 hours ago
  • Positive plan secures victory
    The victory of Labour’s newest MP, Michael Wood, in Mt Roskill is the result of a well-organised campaign run with honesty and integrity, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “I congratulate Michael Wood on his great victory. He will be a ...
    2 days ago
  • Wave of support for Kiwibuild continues to grow
    Apartment builder Ockham Residential has become the latest voice to call for the government to build affordable homes for Kiwi families to buy, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Helen O'Sullivan of Ockham has now joined prominent businesspeople like EMA ...
    3 days ago
  • Cuba Si Yankee No – Fidel Castro and the Revolution
    The death of Fidel Castro is a huge historical moment for the older generation who grew up with the toppling of Batista, the Bay of Pigs debacle, the death of Che Guevara and the US blockade against Cuba. For younger ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    3 days ago
  • Government slashes observer coverage, fails snapper fishery
    The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has more than halved the number of fisheries observers in the East Coast North Island snapper trawl fishery (SNA1). This reduction in observer days, combined with major failures in an unproven and controversial video ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    3 days ago
  • ‘Exemplar’ Māori Land Court under siege
    TheMāori Land Court, hailed as an “exemplar” by the Ministry of Justice chief executive and Secretary, Andrew Bridgman is under siege by the Government through Māori land reforms and a Ministry restructure, says Labour’s Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri. ...
    3 days ago
  • He Poroporoaki ki a Te Awanuiārangi Black
    Kua hinga he whatukura o Tauranga Moana. Kua hinga rangatira o te iwi Māori. Ka tangi tonu ana te ngākau nā tāna wehe kei tua o te ārai. E rere haere ana ngā mihi aroha o mātou o Te Rōpū ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    3 days ago
  • CYF reforms ignoring whānau based solution
    When approximately 60 per cent of children in state care are Māori processes need to change in favour of whānau, hapū and iwi solutions, said Labour’s Whānau Ora spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta.  “Widespread concern about Government reforms of Child Youth and ...
    4 days ago
  • Hip and knees surgery takes a tumble
    The statistics for hip and knee electives under this Government make depressing reading, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “Under the last Labour Government we achieved a 91 per cent growth in hip and knee elective surgery. Sadly under this ...
    4 days ago
  • Parata’s spin can’t hide cuts to early childhood education
    No amount of spin from Hekia Parata can hide the fact that per-child funding for early childhood education has been steadily decreasing under the National government, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “In the 2009/10 year early childhood services received ...
    4 days ago
  • Nats will jump at chance to vote for KiwiBuild Bill
    National will welcome the chance to vote for a real solution to the housing crisis after their many, many failed attempts, says Labour MP for Te Tai Tokerau Kelvin Davis. Kelvin Davis’s Housing Corporation (Affordable Housing Development) Amendment Bill was ...
    4 days ago
  • Million dollar houses put homeownership out of reach of middle New Zealand
    35% of New Zealanders now live in places where the average house costs over a million dollars, and it’s killing the Kiwi dream of owning your own place, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. Latest QV stats show that Queenstown ...
    4 days ago
  • Opportunity for political parties to back Kiwi-made and Kiwi jobs
    The First Reading in Parliament today of his Our Work, Our Future Bill is a chance for political parties to ensure the government buys Kiwi-made more often and backs Kiwi jobs, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. The reading ...
    4 days ago
  • Solid Energy must open the drift
    Solid Energy is showing no moral spine and should not have any legal right to block re-entry into the Pike River drift, says Damien O’Connor MP for West Coast-Tasman.  “Todays failed meeting with  representatives from the state owned company is ...
    5 days ago
  • 20,000 at risk students “missing”
    A briefing to the Minister of Education reveals 20,000 at-risk students can’t be found, undermining claims by Hekia Parata that a new funding model would ensure additional funding reached students identified as at-risk, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. ...
    5 days ago
  • Crime continues to rise
    Overall crime is up five per cent and the Government just doesn’t seem to care, says Labour’s Police Spokesperson Stuart Nash. ...
    5 days ago
  • Treasury fritters $10 million on failed state house sell off
    The Treasury has wasted $10 million in two years on the National Government's flawed state house sell off programme, including nearly $5.5 million on consultants, says Labour Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. "New Zealand needs more state housing than ever, with ...
    5 days ago
  • National slow to learn new trade lessons post TPPA
    Yesterday, the Minister for Trade misused economic data in order to try to make the case for more so-called ‘trade agreements’ like the TPPA which are actually deregulatory straitjackets in disguise. In welcoming a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade ...
    GreensBy Barry Coates
    5 days ago
  • Skilled migrant wages plummeting under National
    Wages have plummeted for people with skilled migrant visas working in low-skilled occupations, driving down wages for workers in a number of industries, says Labour’s Immigration Spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. “Documents acquired by Labour under the Official Information Act reveal that ...
    5 days ago
  • Child abuse apology needed
    The Government's failure to act on recommendations from Judge Henwood, based on years of work by the Confidential Listening and Assistance Service (CLAS) will further undermine any faith victims may have put into the process, says Labour’s Children’s Spokesperson Jacinda ...
    5 days ago
  • Reserve Bank again highlights National’s housing failure
    National’s failure to deal with the housing crisis in New Zealand is once again being exposed by the Reserve Bank today, in a scathing assessment of the Government’s response, says Labour Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson “Governor Wheeler is clearly worried ...
    5 days ago
  • Palm Oil Labelling: Possible Progress?
    On Friday, the Minister for Food Safety, along with her Australian colleagues finally looked at the issue of mandatory labelling of palm oil. We’ve been calling for mandatory labelling for years and we were hoping that the Ministers would agree ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers
    5 days ago
  • National: Fails to achieve
    The ineffectiveness of the National Government’s approach to schooling has been highlighted by the latest Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS) report released overnight, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. ...
    5 days ago
  • Faster into Homes – a new pathway for first home buyers
    This week Parliament will select another members’ bill from the cookie tin (I kid you not, it really is a cookie tin) and I’ve just launched a new bill I’m hoping will get pulled – to help people get into ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    5 days ago
  • Selling off our state housing stock isn’t working for NZers
    I want to end homelessness and ensure that everyone has a warm, safe, dry home. This National Government has let down New Zealanders, especially the thousands of New Zealanders who are struggling with something so basic and important as housing. ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    5 days ago
  • Government needs to ensure fair deal on EQC assessments
    Kiwis affected by earthquakes might not get a fair deal if the Government pushes ahead with secret plans to let private insurers take over the assessment of claims, says Labour’s Canterbury spokesperson Megan Woods. “Under questioning from Labour the Government ...
    6 days ago
  • Key’s priorities the real ‘load of nonsense’
    The Prime Minister’s fixation with tax cuts, despite a failure to pay down any debt and growing pressure on public services is the real ‘load of nonsense’, says Labour Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “We’re getting mixed messages from National. John ...
    6 days ago
  • Free Speech and Hate Speech
    Last week we were very concerned to hear that an Auckland imam, Dr Anwar Sahib, had been preaching divisive and derogatory messages about Jewish people and women during his sermons. It was a disturbing incident coming at the end of ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    6 days ago
  • Young Kiwis struggling under record mortgage debt
    The Government needs to step in and start building affordable homes for first homebuyers now more than ever, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    6 days ago
  • Tairāwhiti says No Stat Oil!
    Tairāwhiti says yes to a clean environment for our mokopuna today and for generations to come. Tairāwhiti are have a responsibility to uphold their mana motuhake over their land and their peoples and are calling on the Government to honour ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    1 week ago
  • Swimmable Rivers tour – Ōkahukura/Lucas Creek
    When Environment Minister Nick Smith said in Parliament that some waterways – like Auckland’s Lucas Creek – are not worth saving because no-one wants to swim in them, he forgot to ask the locals we met last week who have put ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    1 week ago
  • Wellington business relief package needs flexibility
    The Government’s Wellington business support package is welcome news but needs to be implemented so that all affected businesses get the help they need, says Labour MP for Wellington Central Grant Robertson. “Wellington businesses will be pleased that the Government ...
    1 week ago
  • EQC’s staff cuts show disregard for quake victims
    The Earthquake Commission’s stubborn insistence on slashing its workforce and its operational funding by nearly half shows callous disregard for victims of the Kaikoura earthquake and the thousands of Cantabrians still waiting to resolve claims, says Labour’s Canterbury spokesperson Megan ...
    1 week ago
  • Maori Land Court job losses must be delayed
    Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell must request that pending job losses at the Māori Land Court are put on hold until the Māori land reform process is resolved and the risk of losing centuries of collective institutional knowledge is ...
    1 week ago
  • Financial support needed for urgent earthquake strengthening
    The Government must provide urgent support to residents for important earthquake strengthening work so that it happens quickly, says Grant Robertson, Wellington Central MP.  "I support the call from Wellington Mayor Justin Lester to bring forward work to strengthen the ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour welcomes equal pay
    Labour has long appreciated the value of women’s work and welcomes the Government’s decision to address pay equity for women, say’s Labour’s associate Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson Sue Moroney. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Surgeons’ letter a damning indictment
    A letter from Waikato Hospital’s orthopaedic surgeons claiming that hospital managers are stopping them from making follow-up checks on patients is a damning indictment of the health system, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “It’s terrifying that one woman’s elective ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Out of touch Nats continue state house sell-off
    The Government should be focused on building houses for families to buy and more state houses for families in need, not flogging them off, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “National’s state house sell-off does nothing to help people ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Joyce drags feet while Capital businesses suffer
     Wellington businesses affected by the earthquake are continuing to struggle while the Government drags its feet on getting a business assistance package up and running, says Grant Robertson, Wellington Central MP.  “Steven Joyce needs to front up with an assistance ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Health and Safety Act fails to reduce work fatalities
    After the Pike River tragedy, New Zealanders realised that workplace health and safety culture needed to change. Last Saturday marked the 6th anniversary of the tragedy that killed 29 miners at the Pike River mine on the West Coast of ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    2 weeks ago
  • What is the point of education?
    The proposed Education (Update) Bill is the Government’s statement about what the point of education is, and what it means to people. This week we had a day of Select Committee hearings in Auckland on the Bill. It’s a huge ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    2 weeks ago
  • Earthquake exposes training shortfall
    Kaikoura’s earthquakes have exposed the Government’s under investment in critical building and construction skills training, says Labour’s Building and Construction spokesperson Phil Twyford. “The Government needs to urgently ramp up the training of Kiwis in construction and engineering in the ...
    2 weeks ago
  • More cops needed to get P off our streets
    National’s cuts to Police funding and drug enforcement officers has seen a surge in cheap P on our streets, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Stuart Nash. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Who’s calling the shots? Bye bye surplus
    I would love to know who is calling the shots in the National government’s cabinet when it comes to deciding how best to spend taxpayers’ money.  On the evidence of the last few weeks, it definitely isn’t Finance Minister Bill ...
    GreensBy David Clendon
    2 weeks ago
  • Urgent rethink needed on workplace safety
      An urgent rethink is needed on the Government’s new workplace safety laws with the number of deaths this year already at the same level as at the same time in the 2015 calendar year, says Labour’s Associate Workplace Safety ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Rubble and rubbish: spending time in post-quake Kaikōura
    I visited Kaikoura over the weekend – basically to see how the community was coping with all the rubbish and rubble created by last week’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake, and to see my brother Rob. I may have mentioned before that ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    2 weeks ago
  • Time to pull the plug on state house sell-off
    The collapse of the planned sell-off of state houses in Horowhenua is an opportunity for the Government to call time on its troubled state house sell off policy, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Treasury sounds warning bell – but National’s not listening
    Today's long term fiscal outlook issued by The Treasury is a welcome wake-up call on the need to dramatically improve and diversify our economy and properly plan for the future, Grant Robertson, Labour’s Finance Spokesperson says. “Through our Future of Work ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Don’t believe the hype – debt has skyrocketed under National
    The reckless dangling of tax cuts by the National Government is all the more irresponsible when it is put alongside the failure to pay down debt or put money aside for future superannuation costs, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. ...
    2 weeks ago