On the new spy laws

Written By: - Date published: 10:33 am, April 23rd, 2013 - 26 comments
Categories: crime, human rights, law, Spying, war - Tags: , , , ,

This doesn’t need any extra comment:

New spy laws comparable to Big Brother

Planned changes for surveillance a step towards totalitarianism, claims professor

New laws to allow spying on New Zealand citizens is a step towards totalitarianism, says a professor of cyber security and forensics.

“The idea of placing innocent citizens under constant surveillance is one definition of totalitarianism,” Hank Wolfe, an associate professor in the Information Science Department of Otago University’s School of Business told the Herald. “It will inhibit free thought and association. This has been demonstrated historically time and again where repressive totalitarian regimes have installed pervasive surveillance to watch citizens.”

Dr Wolfe was responding to Prime Minister John Key’s announcement that the legislation governing the secret service will be extended to allow the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) to spy on New Zealanders. The move follows revelations that the agency may have illegally spied on 85 New Zealanders besides Kim Dotcom, a New Zealand resident who was bugged at the request of US agencies. …

Dr Wolfe, a security expert who worked for the US Government before emigrating 35 years ago, said: “Why do we want to allow spying on our citizens? There are people everywhere who are sympathisers of something or other that is unpopular. The whole idea of the law is innocent until proven guilty. Surveilling the innocent – is that what we do to protect anyone or is that what we do in totalitarian society?”

Good to see an academic speaking out. Read the whole article for plenty more.

26 comments on “On the new spy laws”

  1. vto 1

    Yep, I agree 100% plus GST.

    This law is extremely unwelcome.

    We are not subjects of the state, we are not here at their mercy or by their favour. We are here. The state comes a distant 2nd or 3rd or 4th. It should fuck off.

    And what are we supposed to do in response? Sit here in fear, knowing that we might be being spied on? Retaliate? How would one retailiate? Spy back on them? Actually that aint a bad idea – a private spy organisation which spys on the spies and reports evcerything back to the public.

    • You could “retaliate” by using encrypted communications, especially email. Retaliation isn’t really appropiate, but it doesn’t hurt to be vigilant.

  2. Anne 2

    Safeguards would be met by beefing up the oversight role of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, who would be able to initiate its own inquiries. The inspector would report findings to the Prime Minister who could keep it secret.

    The prime minister could keep it secret.

    That’s not good enough. There is no way I trust this Prime-Minister to act with the honesty and integrity that such a ‘safe guard’ would necessitate. Helen Clark – yes. She had integrity coming out of her ears.

    And John Key presumably chooses who is going to be Inspector-General – yet another of his former mates who are then beholden to him? It would only be a hop, step and jump before the secret services are being manipulated for political and personal gain.

    • Maui 2.1

      one of his “former mates” .. precisely.
      Give them an inch, they’ll take a mile.

    • Murray Olsen 2.2

      It shouldn’t matter whether the actual PM has integrity coming out their ears or not. We need a system which acts as if they don’t. The whole security apparatus needs to be scrapped and rebuilt by people who, at the very least, don’t feel that their first loyalty is to Washington. Then we need a democratic means of oversight, which need not even involve politicians. In fact, I would prefer it not to.

      • Anne 2.2.1

        It shouldn’t matter whether the actual PM has integrity coming out their ears or not. We need a sytem which acts as if they don’t.

        Yes, I go along with that.

        What I really meant was that I had more trust in Helen Clark to make good judgement calls than the present incumbent, but I agree that really isn’t the point.

      • AmaKiwi 2.2.2

        “It shouldn’t matter whether the actual PM has integrity coming out their ears or not. We need a system which acts as if they don’t.”

        Right, Murray. We don’t write contracts assuming everything will always be rosy. We write them to protect us if things go to sh*t.

        Ask the public, “If a Mugabe or Putin or Kim Jong becomes PM, do you want him to have these powers to spy and imprison you?”

  3. vto 3

    what the fuck are we doing with our very own KGSB anyway?

    Are living in Stalinist Russia, or East Germany before the wall came down, or the USA right now? No we are not.

    It is just another step that sees the world stepping confidently towards war imo. Middle east uprisings, US invasions all over the whole place, totalitarianism in our land, financial system total meltdown pending, debt default in europe, ……

    i tells ya. if it don’t all blow up before the end of this decade then we will have been lucky, imo.

    • muzza 3.1

      VTI – You are right in so much as these laws are designed to lead us into dangerous territory,

      The global *war on terror*, must leave no nation free, the machine must be FED!

  4. Paul 4

    There was a good editorial on this issue in the ODT

    • Rhinocrates 4.1

      Ah, bless the ODT – certainly not the National Party Newsletter that The Herald has become. Makes me proud to have grown up in Dunedin.

      • vto 4.1.1

        Yep that ODT editorial is worth a read, which is a rare thing in a newspaper today.

        The ODT very clearly says that Key is a bullshitter, Key knowingly breached the law around the KGSB, Key is being deceptive in promoting law changes, and that basically nobody should trust anyone or anything to do with Key or this government.

        It is a very stern piece

        • kiwicommie

          Our great leaders plan is to win the election by spying on Russel Norman while he is in the shower*, and running after corporations that can see the writing on the wall i.e. that National is a lame duck. xD

          Edit: *Ewww…never knew the GCSB were that dirty, guess they will start spying on people in the shower now with the new powers. Pedobears of the intel world?

  5. framu 5

    OK – some might accuse me of drawing a long bow here – others not so much

    but consider this alongside the proposed changes to GCSB etc

    • muzza 5.1

      This is the Nirvana, for any serious globalist, and was trialled by way of an NHS patient records consolidation programme, which was run in the UK, starting in the first half of the 2000’s. It was the largest programme of its type in the western world at the time!

      The programme was ultimately looking to determine a successful model for centralising all *patient data*, which would then be rolled out/into other public sectors, with an eye to having a central *master database*, of the nations human cattle stock!

      The original NHS programme, had the UK divided into sectors, and put out for tender, with BT Health, Fujitsu, and Accenture among the original tender winners!

    • McFlock 5.2

      yeah – nah. Cost cutting by removing pesky things like privacy and security.

      There are good reasons for having central (e.g. patient or tax) repositories, but linking them to less relevant descriptive databases to aggregate population indicators just because it’s cheaper is pretty fucked.

      New chief statistician.

      • Anne 5.2.1


        The moment you let a nationwide statistical data base link into other data bases containing each individual’s personal health and financial records then we’re in deep trouble.

        I can hardly believe it’s even being mooted!

        • AmaKiwi

          Ask National voters how safe they will feel when that power is in the hands of a Labour/Green government.

        • Draco T Bastard

          What ever makes you think that such a database doesn’t already exist?

          The banks have your name, address, IRD number and know where you spend your money due to EFT-POS. Banks are also doing insurance now so they’ll have that information as well.

          I truly find it amazing that people get upset about the government, their own administrators who need it to do their job, having that information but seemingly don’t give a moments thought to large private corporations having that same information and using it to make ever higher profits from them.

          • McFlock

            But the banks don’t have access to how often I go to hospital. The ed triage nurse can’t look up my bank balance. EQC can’t accidentally email strangers my welfare benefit history.
            They know what they need to know to do their job. There might be secret-squirrel cross matching, possibly. But at least it’s not a routine winz activity.

            • AmaKiwi

              As far as the banks are concerned I can be a complete political/religious nutter, drug dealer, racist pig, etc., as long as I keep my credit card in overdraft so they can charge me obscene interest rates.

  6. Paul 7

    And the government passing laws vetoing protests at sea and allowing incursions into our privacy rights has the gall to accuse the opposition of usings policies from North Korea/Zimbabwe………
    You’ve got to give these guys some credit – they have some nerve….
    Well they would have if the media was remotely awake and independent.

  7. Mr Interest 8

    Effectively, the new spy laws are dealing with asymmetric warfare.

    On the one hand fair enough, for example, from an article in the Guardian,

    “Fears are being expressed that they will get their hands on nuclear, biological, or chemical, weapons”

    However, what happens when your society begins to challenge the status quo, to see the cracks in the system and to realize… partially, in the fuzzy boundaries…. to a certain degree its not about the asymmetry at all….

    You realize….mate you have been ripped off……. (particularly your kids education…. because thats where social engineering happens first, also the realization that actually your kids are getting held back)

    what if good men or women wont crawl all over the next person just to get that promotion, pay rise, or superficial bosses praise.

    what if the system has a dirth of intelligent people stuffed below stagnant managers that are all about keeping Johnny, themselves and his chums rich for the next few decades….while keeping you on your back.

    What happens when the very people who do the spying cannot deconvolute the bs that our little Johnny is spinning (aka they get paid quite well thank you), what then……. what happens then…. who is selling who out…… and then who should really be watched….

    Cup of tea anyone

    All Johnny is doing is this:
    one needs a closed society that one can control the image and the message that it wishes to convey to the rest of the world far more effectively than can an open society, especially one engaged in an existential struggle for survival.

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