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Knuckleheads – nothing to fear?

Written By: - Date published: 7:12 am, July 12th, 2013 - 51 comments
Categories: accountability, Media, national, Parliament, Spying - Tags: , ,

The knuckleheads (tm John Key) in the parliamentary press gallery are concerned about their privacy:

Parliamentary press gallery raises concerns over swipe card data

Representatives from the parliamentary press gallery have raised concerns with Speaker David Carter over Parliamentary Service releasing the swipe card information of a political reporter.

Press gallery chairwoman Jessica Mutch said the press gallery was worried that journalists could be monitored while working in Parliament.

“We can’t operate in an environment where our every move is tracked and that information is made public – that would make our job around the precinct difficult,” she said.

…Ms Mutch said they were hoping for a formal agreement from Mr Carter to protect press gallery journalists.

Surely if knuckleheads have nothing to hide, they have nothing to fear?


Want privacy?

Well if it’s good enough for knuckleheads, surely it’s good enough for the rest of us too. Ladies and gentlemen of the media – how about doing a better job about raising the alarm about the government’s GCSB spying bill, its sell out to America, and its attacks on our privacy? Just a thought.

51 comments on “Knuckleheads – nothing to fear?”

  1. One Anonymous Knucklehead 1

    *Dons battered fedora and trenchcoat, presses record*

    Well, I’m not a journalist, but I can honestly say this will do nothing to stop us reprinting your press releases, Prime Minister. We’ve got nothing to hide.

    • Tom Gould 1.1

      How the media whip themselves into a frenzy when there is even the slightest hint their extensive privilege will be impinged, but as you suggest, hardly a peep if the State wants to validate spying on everyone else. As an example of how fundamentally broken the fourth estate is these days, this must be it. Although, post the UK hacking scandal, maybe they see the benefits in spying on people unlawfully? Especially if there are papers to be sold and money to be made?

  2. rosy 2

    Nothing to hide, nothing to fear?
    Orwell or Kafka?
    Surveillance or information processing?

    Both matter, but is the instinctive surveillance argument the best one for discussions about privacy? What do we fear most? and what is more important in terms of personal freedom?

    Why privacy matters even if you have nothing to hide.

    When the nothing-to-hide argument is unpacked, and its underlying assumptions examined and challenged, we can see how it shifts the debate to its terms, then draws power from its unfair advantage. The nothing-to-hide argument speaks to some problems but not to others. It represents a singular and narrow way of conceiving of privacy, and it wins by excluding consideration of the other problems often raised with government security measures. When engaged directly, the nothing-to-hide argument can ensnare, for it forces the debate to focus on its narrow understanding of privacy. But when confronted with the plurality of privacy problems implicated by government data collection and use beyond surveillance and disclosure, the nothing-to-hide argument, in the end, has nothing to say.

    Arguing for privacy based on ‘nothing to hide, nothing to fear’ leaves a great hole in the argument for why privacy matters, according to Daniel J. Solove (in 2011). A Kafkaesque discussion provides stronger grounds for arguing against data collection, he thinks.

    Another metaphor better captures the problems: Franz Kafka’s The Trial. Kafka’s novel centers around a man who is arrested but not informed why. He desperately tries to find out what triggered his arrest and what’s in store for him. He finds out that a mysterious court system has a dossier on him and is investigating him, but he’s unable to learn much more. The Trial depicts a bureaucracy with inscrutable purposes that uses people’s information to make important decisions about them, yet denies the people the ability to participate in how their information is used.

    The problems portrayed by the Kafkaesque metaphor are of a different sort than the problems caused by surveillance. They often do not result in inhibition. Instead they are problems of information processing—the storage, use, or analysis of data—rather than of information collection. They affect the power relationships between people and the institutions of the modern state. They not only frustrate the individual by creating a sense of helplessness and powerlessness, but also affect social structure by altering the kind of relationships people have with the institutions that make important decisions about their lives.

  3. North 3

    Oh how the vainglorious beltway bubbies cry……..

  4. freedom 4

    Surely the press gallery tracking story is a shell game distraction from the recent requests for more information on the ever growing number of commercial lobbyists who appear to have increasing access to Parliament buildings and its occupants. I would imagine the long list of lobbyists would be of far greater interest to the public.

    As I no longer have a landline I am heavily restricted in my access to the ongoing story. I may have missed any references to it but in the reporting I have seen it is the media’s movements and not the swathes of lobbyists that seem to be the only topic of interest.

    • Molly 4.1

      That was my first response to this story as well. Seems like the words “big picture” don’t actually mean anything to the press gallery. Depressingly apparent from their twitterings from their nest.

  5. locus 5

    Nearly every country in the world recognises a right of privacy explicitly in their Constitution. At a minimum, these provisions include rights of inviolability of the home and secrecy of communications

    This report written by Privacy International provides a good summary of the many resons why NZ must never ever let the US inspired changes in legislation proposed for the GCSB Act get into law

    What we need in NZ is something as simple as this:

    Constitution of Russia. Article 23
    1. Everyone shall have the right to the inviolability of private life, personal and family secrets, the protection of honour and good name.
    2. Everyone shall have the right to privacy of correspondence, of telephone conversations, postal, telegraph and other messages. Limitations of this right shall be allowed only by court decision.

  6. AmaKiwi 6

    Labour, Greens, NZ First: Here is an issue you can win votes on.

    A US poll shows that opposition to government spying “predominated among nearly every subgroup, regardless of political party, gender, income, education or age.”

    “The concerns about privacy and government power raised by the N.S.A. disclosures do not break down along conventional ideological lines, with libertarian-leaning Republicans and Democrats alike questioning the surveillance.”

    EVERYONE is opposed to government spying. Only National supports it.

    You can win votes across the entire political, gender, income, education, and age range by vigorously opposing government spying. Don’t limit your attacks to the details of the GCSB bill. Pull whatever media stunts you need to make yourselves champions of privacy.

    The right to privacy is popular with EVERYONE. Here’s your issue. Go for the jugular!

    source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/11/us/poll-shows-complexity-of-debate-on-trade-offs-in-government-spying-programs.html?ref=global-home&_r=0

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      The big question is: What should be private?

      IMO, peoples use of the states resources shouldn’t be, their private lives should be. But then we have a cross over between private and public due to the need to use the states resources to maintain life.

      • weka 6.1.1

        “peoples use of the states resources”

        Like what? I immediately thought of WINZ benefits, but I assume that’s not what you mean.

        • Draco T Bastard

          No, the actual resources taken from the environment. Food, iron, wood, electricity etc. Money itself is not a resource but it does represent the use of those resources which is why money would need to be traced which is why peoples claim that we need to go back to a cash society is also bunk. What they’re really asking for there is not to be held to account (which, IMO, puts them with the corporations and other RWNJs that don’t want regulation).

          Now, some people will say that some of those aren’t state resources. Food is an obvious one as it’s grown by the farmer but that food needs to get it’s nutrients from the ground and those nutrients are limited. They can be replaced but doing so uses even more resources which then also need to be accounted for as well.

          As I say, these are not a privacy issue as those resources belong to all of us and all of us should have a say in their use especially considering that over-use, which is what exponential growth must bring about, is unsustainable.

          What should be private?
          We’ve seen that corporations are learning a hell of a lot about people from their use of resources and the people quite often don’t even know that the corporations are gathering that data but, at the same time, we really do need that data so as to use the limited resources we have responsibly. Which brings up another question: Should the corporations have that data or the government?

    • David H 6.2

      “The right to privacy is popular with EVERYONE. Here’s your issue. Go for the jugular! ”

      But they won’t, they are too busy fighting each other to give a rats arse about the rank n file general public.

  7. Rosetinted 7

    Sing? Beautiful, beautiful brown eyes, I’ll never love blue eyes again.

  8. felix 8

    Hey journos. Where were you for the last 5 years while Key systematically fucked the rest of us over?

    Kissing his arse, that’s where.

    • King Kong 8.1

      Grrrrr. I’m angry too.

      Damn you journos. When are you ever going to write the deranged and fantastical, extreme left side of the story.

      The country is burning, the fire of revolution swells in the breast of the throngs of down trodden, yet not a peep from the press.

      • Rogue Trooper 8.1.1

        swamped. (have you seen the rain we been havin’?).
        “And I wonder, still I wonder, who’ll stop the rain”.

      • felix 8.1.2

        Yeah KK, that’s exactly what I said 🙄

      • Populuxe1 8.1.3

        Sorry, I had to slip my Les Miserables CD in the stereo for the full effect then.

      • emergency mike 8.1.4

        So you’d be pleased about Campbell Live last night eh? Don’t worry looks like the tide is turning, reportage that John Key is a traitor appears to be going mainstream at last.

  9. vto 9

    The journalists should swap their entry swipe cards to confuse and confound the spooks.

  10. quartz 10

    Attacking the media? No wonder they consider this site the loony left. Which pisses me off because it undermines a lot of the good stuff that’s on here.

    • r0b 10.1

      This post is an “attack”? More like a resigned and futile chiding I would have said.

    • weka 10.2

      “Front Page is New Zealand’s leading independent producer of TV news and current affairs”

      And they think it is appropriate to refer to the largest leftwing collective blog in NZ as the loony left? I suppose balance and impartiality are quaint old-fashioned notions in knuckledhead journalism.

      • quartz 10.2.1

        Richard Harmon is a decent guy. If the Standard is getting this kind of gyp from him I’d guess the problem is the Standard’s reputation more than his bias.

        That reputation is probably due to the number of people from the right and from the Labour party who talk the site down out in the real world, but having this kind of post from a named author is unlikely to help.

        • Anne

          Richard Harman is a Tory from the top of his head to the tips of his toe nails. I bet he’s rarely read TS except in relation to himself and “The Nation” programme. He wouldn’t have a clue about the myriad of excellent commentary that appears here on a daily basis.

          I was in the TV medium many years ago and I witnessed the incredible egos – and the arrogance of perceived superiority that goes with it – first hand. They came across as nice guys and gals when fronting the cameras, but see them off camera and it was often a different story. There are always a few exceptions to the rule, and maybe Richard Harman is one of them but he’s still an opponent of those of us who are left of centre.

        • weka

          Call me old fashioned too, but I just don’t think that journalists should be using derogatory adjectives in that way. Is he a producer rather than a journo? It still undermines the credibility of the current affairs programmes they make for him to express his personal views like that.

          btw, I fail to see what is ‘loony’ about r0b’s post. In his opinion (shared by many, including myself) the MSM are not doing a good enough job covering the privacy issues currently affecting NZ, and he takes a poke at them for being concerned about their own privacy. What is wrong with that?

      • Populuxe1 10.2.2

        That has more to do with the content of the comments and many of the posts than the actual readership. Size isn’t everything.

    • Rogue Trooper 10.3


    • Rosetinted 10.4

      There is such a thing as being too mild-mannered, Superman under his quiet Clark Kent persona had real muscles and willingness to fight for good. You can’t criticise anything, or call for better standards? You’re a bit of a wet doormat aren’t you.

  11. North 11

    Tracking their swipe cards would provide a telling record of their gin-guzzling-jaunts from ministerial office to ministerial office. Useless pricks the lot of them !

    • ak 11.1

      You raise an important point, young Northie, evoking such memories as Garner and Espiner hitting the tiles regularly early in the piece with a certain slippery goober and one J Collins’ deep and meaningful maternal “Paddy”s and “Guy”s among others.

      Now imagine for a second that a certain handful of mediocre individuals had assumed prime and exclusive importance in the task of leading public opinion and that you were in command of unfettered and total information on said individuals – and millions in resources to gather such, with absolute, secret impunity forever – and that your sole aim in life, as demonstrated by your private and public endeavours to date had been the acquisition of wealth and public acclamation, and that you had a rather loose and tenuous grasp of such notions as truth and integrity, would it be too much of a stretch to imagine that you may be tempted to at least stay aware of the movements, intentions, and indeed psychological state of said individuals? And once so tempted and all-informed, take the further small step of using your enormous power and influence to determine their fate?

      Orewa One didn’t drag the Natsy party out of the poll gutter and keep it there all by itself.

      I follow John Campbell’s career with interest.

      • Rogue Trooper 11.1.1

        -“psychopaths get kinda’ tiresome after a while, don’t you think?”- Hans (Christopher Walken)
        -“Some grey place; England? It seemed a lot worse than that”.
        -“you know, writing alleviates (their) suicidal self-loathing, and sh*t”.

        from Seven Psychopaths

      • North 11.1.2

        Thank you Ak @ 11.1 above for tidying up my point crudely made @ 11.

        Oh that your kind application of “young” were as efficacious in stripping away the decades…….as efficacious indeed as the news camera in satisfying the strange Potty Gower that he’s a taonga in the nation’s political life.

        Alas for me and for mine Potty, neither fantasy can be rationally maintained !

        I do however persist with this……..I’m buggered if I’m going to have a bunch of know-all-jargon-jargon-jargon-gin-gin-gin, beltway voyeurs, oftentimes mere kids, purport to command my thinking as to a certain set of facts.

        Resolve is redoubled when unashamed confession of personal failing is deployed to hasten me to the sought conclusion. A case in point……..Potty’s infamous “I’m angry…….”

        I suggest triple-valium.

        Sadly, Fart Estate prevails. Never mind…….invariably the suits are cheap and eminently disposable.

  12. Rogue Trooper 12

    Whose Bill is the GCSB Bill really. The Campbell Live coverage of the Attorney- Generals huddle-down-under was interesting; The U.S Dept. Of Justice under Eric Holder is “out of control”. “Let’s improve extradition” contributes Finlayson.

  13. Mr Interest 13

    I think the real issue here is that you are not allowed to turn surveillance on its head i.e. who watches the watchmen (i.e. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?).

    It would be useful to know what the protocol is by the GCSB and SIS on keeping data on el presedenta et. al???? Sort of like Richard Nixons watergate tapes (on steroids)…… but also covering the years before they came into power (I sure echelon etc would reveal quite a few ‘conversations’). It will be there in the system as John has worked at too high a level.

    One of the useful tools of surveillance is that you can look back into the past data (GPS, phone, computer, facial recognition…blaa blaa the list is endless) and run social network analysis (SNA).

    see here http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2006/05/how_the_nsa_does_social_network_analysis.html

    It will give you something similar to a Muckety Map of interrelationships see here for example:
    Here is a basic SNA done on Merril Lynch


    What Key and chums dont want is the public prying into their past wheeling and dealing….. thats it.

    You see, its all about circularity….

    here is a circular / Catch 22 type problem in that governments use “classified” covers to hide criminal activity (esp. if it is an unconstitutional act) but targets can’t prove any of that BECAUSE it has been classified…. Eg. NSA Whistleblower William Binney in an interview (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuET0kpHoyM) points out that Executive Order 13526 section 1.7 (covering classified status allocation) specifically says that **”You cannot classify information merely to cover up a crime”**. Even if devices or procedures are classified this also applies to them and information on them when they are being used for criminal purposes. So, in theory, by misusing devices, abusing authority and so on the administration not only commits crimes but should open up the information relating to that for public scrutiny…

    One begins to make the conclusion that a large part of surveillance is also about keeping prying eyes out of certain powerful individuals dealings……..

    As for the parliamentary press, well I dont know how much integrity they have, but using national TV news as a benchmark (i.e. most of the news is impotent dribble) I would say not much…..

    One could use this ‘Parliamentary press gallery raises concerns over swipe card data’ to take away focus on the real issue, that is… if the government-Corporates can spy on you, you should be able to spy on them…………………………

  14. Mr Interest 14

    Also a nice article on counter surveillance (unfortunately it highlights why surveillance is really only a one way street in favor on you know who).

    Who watches the watchmen (i.e. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?)….. a disorganized rabble (similar to the European Revolutions of 1848)



    A large and professional surveillance team can use a variety of fixed and mobile assets, including electronic listening devices and operatives on foot, in vehicles and even in aircraft. Such a large team can be extremely difficult for anyone to spot. A massive surveillance operation, however, requires an organization with vast assets and a large number of well-trained operatives. This level of surveillance, therefore, is usually only found at the governmental level, as most militant organizations lack the assets and the number of trained personnel required to mount such an operation. Indeed, most criminal and militant surveillance is conducted by one person, or by a small group of operatives. This means they must place themselves in a position to see the target — and thus be seen — with far more frequency than would be required in a huge surveillance operation. And the more they show their faces, the more vulnerable they are to detection. This vulnerability is amplified if the operatives are not highly trained.

  15. Saarbo 15

    “I actually don’t think it was a very good submission at all and they need to pull their socks up. If they’re going to continue to be a government-funded organisation they should meet the deadline should everyone else.”

    Quote from John Key responding to The Human Rights Commission’s submission regarding the GCSB spying bill.


    Is this a threat?

    What an arrogant useless prick he is.

    Good submission from the HRC.

    • Rogue Trooper 15.1

      It is a ‘report’, issued directly to the Prime Minister (4th such instance since 1993); The Human Rights Commission could have made a submission ” but there was a quite short period for people to prepare their submissions…we did seek an extension but that wasn’t granted”.- Gilbert Wong.

      Is Key running around putting out fires now, like Flick The Little Fire Engine, or, “I think I can, I think I can” (do whatever the US pleases) The Little Engine That Could. 😀

    • weka 15.2

      “What an arrogant useless prick he is.”

      Yep. I was quite shocked at Key’s response to the Commission. I guess NACT are now in full “fuck off NZ, we’ll do what we want” mode.

  16. ak 16

    Is Key running around putting out fires now,

    Indeed, my loveable rogue, which is why he and his flunkies so strikingly resemble flailing wet blankets – Shearerbash on maximum as Helenhate-primed freedom worshippers gradually dawn to the fact that some pimply-faced young natsy appointee has full access to their credit-card details and has had for years. Hacks flapping furiously at windmills as 40,000 tonnes of prime rots on the tentacled ones’ docks to mark another cabinet visit….

    • Rogue Trooper 16.1

      ah yes, that meat, stalled in the Motherland, like the news thereof , which finally sailed onto our televisions about 4 days after it was in the online press; We wouldn’t want to startle the natives now, would we Nuthin’ Guy.

  17. BLiP 17

    Tricky one, ain’t it? There’s little motivation for the people to support the media when it has abandoned its Fourth Estate principles.

    • felix 17.1

      Exactly BLiP.

      Journalism I care about. Free press I care about. A functioning fourth estate I care about.

      Remind me why should I give a shit about a glorified spin machine operated by egomaniacs marking time while they wait for a cushy gig on the inside.

      Yeah nah.

  18. Sam 18

    Great report from the Human Rights Commission – only fourth time in 20 yrs they have used this mechanism. About time the PM listened rather than just making veiled threats about their funding!


  19. aerobubble 20

    Isn’t that the problem, that went the criminals are the ones that know how to avoid being watched (because they learn how they were caught in jail), then a new social culture is born that assiduously avoids being watched. Criminals will gain a competitive advantage, as information will and does leak (companies who collect the information will find ways to clip the ticket) and so those who aren’t mindful about their privacy will find themselves at a competitive disadvantage for jobs, for price reductions, for better deals on shares, etc, etc. When one side of a contract has far more knowledge, etc, etc. The laws of business don’t suddenly go away because big brother is watching, rather the ability of insiders to use their data access to make money is leveraged against the common good.

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