New report on GCSB spying powers

Written By: - Date published: 2:19 pm, March 9th, 2016 - 26 comments
Categories: accountability, human rights, law, Spying - Tags: , , , ,

A Government-ordered review (by Sir Michael Cullen and Dame Patsy Reddy) of NZ’s spy agencies has just been released:

GCSB may be given permission to spy on Kiwis’ private information

New Zealand’s foreign intelligence agency should be able to spy on Kiwis’ private communications, a wide-ranging intelligence and security review has recommended.

The push to scrap the current restriction on the GCSB intercepting New Zealanders’ private communications will be controversial. Sir Michael told a press conference that such co-operation between the two intelligence agencies was the intent of the current law.

A lack of clarity about what the law permits and recent high-profile controversies meant the GCSB had taken an overly conservative approach – which could lead valuable lines of investigation been dropped, and ultimately put New Zealanders’ safety at risk.

“We are not proposing a vast extension of power…it is a clarification…the Government is, in effect, is almost placed in a position of failing in its duty to protect the lives of New Zealanders, because the legislation is simply not clear enough,” Sir Michael said.

Under the single piece of legislation proposed, all of the agencies’ activities would require some form of authorisation. A three-tiered system was recommended, with higher level of scrutiny for activity that is more intrusive or targets New Zealanders.

There is plenty of detail – well worth reading the piece in full. See also Stuff: Report on NZ’s spy agencies recommends more powers, greater oversight.

Key wants Labour’s support for the proposals.

The Greens are opposed.

Dim-Post points out that this confirms that Finlayson’s current laws are a mess.

NRT proposes scrapping the GCSB instead.

It seems that the Human Rights Commission has described the proposals as “well-judged and reflective of NZ’s democratic values”.

Labour is calling for a public debate.


key-resign-no

26 comments on “New report on GCSB spying powers”

  1. Chooky 1

    Well Key would want Labour’s support for spying on New Zealanders wouldn’t he?

    …and Labour will probably give it to him imo

  2. One Anonymous Bloke 2

    Spying is warfare. Admittedly its aim is to reduce violence, and it is nonetheless an art, and an act, of war.

    What do we call it when military personnel are deployed against civilians? Oh, yeah, that’s right: a war crime.

    The NZ Police have wide-ranging surveillance powers. They are – at least nominally – independent. This recommendation effectively hands Police powers to politicians.

    Well, the National Party has already smashed most of the furniture; looks like they want to put more resources into undermining the foundations.

  3. Macro 3

    Labour are as spineless as ever. Cullen and Reddy need their heads read! What a travesty of a report! Talk about 1984.
    Next we will have the Ministry of Truth. Oh yeah! we have that already – it’s called the Department of PM and Cabinet (and gets bigger by the day).

    • weka 3.1

      I liked this bit, “We are not proposing a vast extension of power…it is a clarification”

      And how they tried to justify a whole bunch of stuff with the underlying meme of ‘you should trust us’. How hard would it be to give some examples of what they think the dangers are? Saying ‘we need to spy on you because a NZer might be kidnapped one day’ is infantalising a population that is quite capable of undertanding complex detail.

      • miravox 3.1.1

        ‘We are not proposing a vast extension of power…it is a clarification’

        if this sentence had omitted the word ‘vast’ it wouldn’t be so bad.

    • saveNZ 3.2

      +1 Macro – Love it…. ministry of truth…

  4. Chooky 4

    Nicky Hager talking to John Campbell on Checkpoint

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/checkpoint/audio/201792566/nicky-hager-on-review-of-nz-spy-agencies

    “Investigative journalist Nicky Hager is the author of “Secret Power” and collaborated with various media to publish stories based on files taken by US whistleblower Edward Snowden from the US National Security Agency.”

    • saveNZ 4.1

      Great link Chooky.
      GCSB can now legally spy on Kiwis and collect their metadata.

      And National can claim by association of Cullen – Labour wants it too.

  5. Descendant Of Sssmith 5

    I remember when we used to look at both the fascist and communist countries that surveilled their own citizens with disdain.

    We now want to be like them.

    How far we have fallen, how low we have sunk.

    All done with the compliance of an aging and fearful population who don’t wish to reap what they have sown and a complicit foreign voting base imported on the basis of their wealth and conservatism.

    There’s not many of the things that were valued when I was growing up left:

    1. The right to freely withdraw labour
    2. State housing for life
    3. 8 hour working day, 40 hour working week
    4. Universal Family Benefit
    5. Unarmed police
    6. Near full employment
    7. Rail across the width and breadth of NZ
    8. Cross employer wage bargaining
    9. Free education
    10 Independent religious schools standing and falling on their own feet
    11. Secular state education
    12. Government employment for those who were unwell or impaired in some way
    13. Regional development
    14 Decent benefit rates
    15 Rural hospitals
    16 Integrated health system
    17 Dental nurses in schools
    18. School swimming pools
    19. After school adult education
    20. Manufacturing

    Universal Super is still there though – in fact it’s even more generous than when I was growing up and yet the people who benefited the most from all of the above don’t even pay enough tax to sustain it – at the height of their economic earning power.

    • weka 5.1

      Good comment Sssmith, it would make a good guest post.

      21. Affordable private housing

      (Universal Super is now denied to half a decade of people.)

      • Descendant Of Sssmith 5.1.1

        (Universal Super is now denied to half a decade of people.)

        Aye that it is. That of course adds to the pool of unemployed – just like many sole parents are now hidden in the Job Seeker numbers.

        Maori with their lower life expectancy were particularly disadvantaged by that change.

        • weka 5.1.1.1

          I came across this before.

          Delegates: vote down the NZ Super age increase

          It’s an old conversation about how to make Super fair for groups of people disadvantaged in various ways and who die young. Someone suggested this,

          Perhaps where people die young, the superannuation that they missed out on could be paid into their estate.

          Of course if we could afford* to do that we could afford to pay Super from an earlier age, but there is something about the intergenerational support and potential benefits that I really like. It seems more genuinely universal too.

          *choose to prioritise.

    • saveNZ 5.2

      +1 DOS

    • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 5.3

      …a complicit foreign voting base imported on the basis of their wealth and conservatism

      And don’t get me started on their driving! Amirite!

  6. Chooky 6

    +100 Descendent of Sssmith….you could say neoliberal fascism is upon us and we are no longer the proud egalitarian world leading society we once were

    ….and the NZ Labour Party is not worth voting for because too often it has been in collusion

  7. Incognito 7

    There are two potential violators of man’s rights: the criminals and the government.

    In: The Virtue of Selfishness by Ayn Rand

  8. Colonial Viper 8

    This is just smoke and mirrors. The NZ Govt gets its foreign FVEY partners to do all the spying on NZers, circumventing NZ laws anyway.

  9. gsays 9

    Hi chooky, I smell a rat.
    I reckon this is a bit of window dressing before inevitable new laws are passed.
    If we were a little better informed we would call it retrospective legislation.

    Not that it matters, as we have seen, time and time again, the Polly’s do what they want. Then feign ignorance or claim that the law is complicated.

    • M. Gray 9.1

      I agree but I think they are already doing it just like the SAS where are they ? our leader knows where they are they are just playing little games and too many NZers believe everything hook line and sinker

  10. saveNZ 10

    I think I read somewhere you are more likely to be killed by a bee sting than a terrorist.

    The whole thing is a farce, from allowing 9/11 to have such a profound effect on how the whole world acts (do whatever they like, start wars, assassinate people etc) to the lack of interest in the citizens of their own countries and their rights and NOW the abuse of citizens and their rights by our own government.

    We are changing everything we fought for and believe in, over a boggy man largely created by the actions of the US in retaliation to a bunch of Saudi Nationals.

    We have more chance of falling into a pot hole and being killed than being killed by any terrorist here, and the government is more interested in protecting the interests of non tax paying cronies than the economic rights of citizens in this country by these spying laws.

    Shame of them! and also shame on Cullen and everyone involved to fall into he bogy man trap of giving wide spread invasive powers to an incompetent government organisation who tell sexist racist jokes, act illegally and spy on and embarrass the opposition.

    I don’t really blame boomers for everything, but here is a classic example of boomers & opportunists giving away younger people’s civil rights that they enjoyed themselves – the right to privacy and safety from power and corruption.

    And that is plain wrong!

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