Parliamentary Services is snooping on MPs’ emails

Written By: - Date published: 9:14 am, September 14th, 2016 - 123 comments
Categories: democracy under attack, labour, national, uncategorized - Tags: , ,


Thinking of emailing your opposition MP about a matter of sensitivity concerning the government?  Well be careful with what email address you use.  Because it appears that all emails are being monitored and not just for the usual things such as spam and viruses.

From Radio New Zealand:

Labour’s chief whip Chris Hipkins says Parliamentary Service told him it had blocked one of his emails because of a security classification of the attached document, which he says is ‘outrageous’.

Mr Hipkins has asked the Speaker of the House to urgently investigate what he says is a clear breach of parliamentary privilege.

He told the House that Parliamentary Service was monitoring, and in some cases blocking, emails to and from MPs based on government security classifications.

When he sought clarification from Parliamentary Service, Mr Hipkins said he was told they had blocked it on the basis the document attached to his email contained “sensitive words” that were in violation of government security classifications.

Chris Hipkins says other Labour Party staff have contacted him with stories of their emails being blocked. 

“And therefore I was not allowed to send the email – that’s outrageous, they have no right to be screening the emails being sent by Members of Parliament.”

He said the incident had “tipped us [Labour] off” to the fact MPs emails were being monitored.

Presuming this is occurring it is offensive because MPs should have complete freedom in performing their job.  The threat of having their emails monitored will have a chilling effect on this.

The issue brought back memories of the leaking of the Kitteridge report controversy where Peter Dunne’s emails and reporter Andrea Vance’s metadata collected by Parliamentary Services were released to David Henry who was conducting an inquiry into who leaked the Kitteridge Report. There was considerable concern that Dunne’s rights as an MP had been breached.  The incident resulted in the resignation of then head of Parliamentary Services Geoff Thorn.

Idiot Savant sums up well what is wrong with the current situation in this passage:

If true, this is a significant breach of privilege, and a betrayal of trust by an organisation which is supposed to serve and assist MPs. The freedom of speech and freedom to receive information of MPs is fundamental to their role and protected by Parliamentary Privilege. In this case, Parliamentary services was caught preventing an MP from passing on to a journalist information they had lawfully received under the Official Information Act. But it would also intercept leaks made to MPs, undermining a fundamental safeguard in our democracy. More importantly, any spying on MPs and their communications is simply unacceptable and a threat to our democracy.

Parliamentary services owes us all an explanation as to who came up with this idea and how much they’ve spied on, intercepted and blocked. But more importantly, they need to stop fucking doing it. The communications of MPs are sacrosanct. And having a bunch of bureaucrats censoring them for the convenience of the unelected Deep State is simply unacceptable.

123 comments on “Parliamentary Services is snooping on MPs’ emails ”

  1. Anne 1

    Chris Hipkins on morning report:

    He wants to know how long its being going on for and who instructed Parliamentary Services to start monitoring Labour MPs communications. At this point he knows of no MPs outside of Labour who may also have been affected.

    He won’t get the truth whatever it is. Sinister stuff!

    • alwyn 1.1

      “At this point he knows of no MPs outside of Labour who may also have been affected.”.
      That sounds a bit more sinister than what he was really saying.
      He said, if my memory is accurate, that he had only checked with other Labour people.
      I tried to listen to it again using your link but the link doesn’t work.

    • Infused 1.2

      Chris is just showing he has no idea how technology works

      • Lanthanide 1.2.1

        He said they should monitor for spam and viruses etc, and he’s right they should look for genuine security threats.

        What they shouldn’t be doing is looking at *content* of emails (or attachments), not even for ‘bad language’. Unfortunately Chris didn’t state it in as straightforward terms as I just have, but that’s what he’s saying.

        And he’s correct.

        • Infused

          He’s stated they are snooping emails which isn’t correct.

          Spam virus and this are the same thing.


          Specifically irm

          • Bob

            Exactly, and IRM is especially important when it comes to classified information!

            There was outrage when Clinton got let off for sending classified information from a personal email address ( but we should be happy to let the opposition fire off emails with classified information as they see fit???

            Chris Hipkins is the one with some explaining to do, not Parliamentary Services.

            • Matthew Whitehead

              …no he’s not, because Chris Hipkins doesn’t have a portfolio and isn’t in government, and is in fact protected by parliamentary privilege to talk about such information so that we can have an effective opposition. (edit: ignoring of course the fact that the information had been released by OIA anyway, and thus shouldn’t even have been subject to question for ANYONE to discuss publicly) The issue is (potentially) with who actually leaked the info to Chris Hipkins. (although only if doing so wasn’t whistleblowing)

              • alwyn

                Nobody “leaked” the information to Hipkins.
                It was released to him under the OIA. He was trying to pass it on, absolutely legally, to a journalist.

              • Infused

                So? Legit email classed as spam is stopped all the time. Where is the outrage?

                • The issue is that nobody should be reviewing confidential correspondence of MPs unnecessarily, and these settings may well be causing that to happen. MPs need to be able to correspond with people about deeply private situations in confidence in a way that’s similar to how journalists need to protect their sources, and they often need to send information in a timely manner. If emails are being incorrectly flagged as having classified disclosures in them and stopped or reviewed because of that, that creates real problems.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    The test is: can a member say this in the house? If the answer is “yes” then they can put it in an email too. The media still have to be careful what they report in either case.

                    • Well, I think that actually depends on whether parliamentary emails count as House business. I would argue they do as well, (because at bare minimum, corresponding on parliament grounds with constituents is likely conducive to the opposition’s ability to hold the government accountable at Question Time) but I’d say that’s a reasonable point of debate.

          • Matthew Whitehead

            Information rights management should not be enabled for opposition MPs, to whom no restrictions applying to government information apply.

            If the government wants to check that MPs aren’t leaking sensititive documents, that fine, government MPs can be monitored using automated IRM. But opposition MPs can and should be able to receive any and all information forwarded to them and sent it on, regardless of where they got it. That’s how parliamentary privilege is supposed to work.

            • Bob

              “Information rights management should not be enabled for opposition MPs, to whom no restrictions applying to government information apply”

              That is simply not true, the leader of the opposition for example is frequently briefed on NZSIS matters, the majority of which would be highly classified.

              “But opposition MPs can and should be able to receive any and all information forwarded to them and sent it on, regardless of where they got it. That’s how parliamentary privilege is supposed to work.”

              Again untrue, you obviously don’t understand the point of parliamentary privilege:

              • I was referring to the fact that members of the opposition don’t have an obligation to keep government information confidential the same way ministers do.

                If you check your facts on the information in question, it was not classified. It was released under the OIA. If IRM is going to be applied to MPs emails, (and I think that’s probably a bad idea) it does need to be up to date with what’s been released under the OIA at the very least.

                And thanks for the link, but I actually checked that page before I posted. Your misconception seems to be that this information was still classified, which it wasn’t.

                • Bob

                  “And thanks for the link, but I actually checked that page before I posted”
                  Really? Did you not understand it? Why would you say “opposition MPs can and should be able to receive any and all information forwarded to them and sent it on, regardless of where they got it. That’s how parliamentary privilege is supposed to work.”?
                  Did you not read “In fact parliamentary privilege applies to Parliament as a whole rather than the individual members” i.e. Opposition MP’s have the same privileges AND obligations as Government MP’s. Why are you trying to differentiate?

                  • Bob, I focused on opposition MPs because you have been talking about Hillary Clinton elsewhere in the thread, who was a member of US Cabinet, an incredibly different role that has incredibly different emphasis. I am aware that privilege applies to all of Parliament, however Government MPs are often under additional obligations outside of privilege that might make applying IRM to their email a reasonable measure.

                    Opposition MPs are (normally) not so bound and should be free to disclose any documents they like without it either automatically being stopped or it being sent to anyone for review, otherwise it impedes their ability to function as an opposition.

                    And you still don’t seem to have anything to say about the fact that this was public information, (at the time it was sent) so your objections about classification are completely irrelevant.

                    • Bob

                      “this was public information”
                      It was declassified information, and I agree that when it was declassified it should have been removed from the IRM database, but I completely reject the premise that opposition MP’s should be treated any differently to a sitting Minister when it comes to IT and Information security.

                      “Opposition MPs are (normally) not so bound and should be free to disclose any documents they like without it either automatically being stopped or it being sent to anyone for review, otherwise it impedes their ability to function as an opposition.”
                      This has as much credence as saying, a sitting Minister should not be so bound and should be free to disclose any documents they like without it either automatically being stopped or it being sent to anyone for review, otherwise it impedes there ability to make law.
                      That is clearly bullshit. Classified information being sent from parliamentary email is classified information being sent from parliamentary email, no matter who sends it. In this case it was a false positive, but it doesn’t mean anything sinister is going on.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    MPs are not employees of Parliamentary Services. The BoRA 1688 gives them, among other things, absolute freedom of speech.

                    Sure, they can be held in contempt of the house for abusing that privilege, but if these freedoms do not apply to individual members they aren’t freedoms.

                    Otherwise, quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

                    • Bob

                      “The BoRA 1688 gives them, among other things, absolute freedom of speech.”
                      Absolute freedom of speech, yes. Absolute freedom to pass classified information on to media for political gain…no.
                      In this case the file had been declassified and should have been removed from the IRM database, but it doesn’t change the fact that classified documents should be blocked from reaching public domain.

                      “quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”
                      Exactly the reason Parliamentary services should be scanning emails for classified information, otherwise MP’s would have free reign to send out classified information to media as they please under the guise of ‘Parliamentary Privilege”

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      This isn’t getting through to you is it?

                      How many members of the Privileges Committee are from Parliamentary Services?

                      If an MP can say it in the house, they can put it in an email.

                    • I agree with you, OAB. Most likely this is the government side-stepping the privileges committee and deciding that they can instruct Parliamentary Services to implement filters. What I am saying is that, if the privileges committee agrees, this might be an appropriate step to take for those with ministerial portfolios or other access to restricted information that they are expected not to release publicly. But it is for the House to decide that, and by default you would expect your average opposition MP to have unrestricted freedom of speech in those matters in their capacity as an MP on Parliamentary grounds, which surely includes their email address, especially as they are not being bound by any cabinet doctrines nor are most of them privy to classified information.

                      Bob: Again, no MPs had passed any classified information to the media recently to our knowledge, so why was such a restriction in place in the first place without it having been agreed to under the proper rules?

                      You agreed earlier that this information is public, so kindly stop banging on about classified info. There is no evidence any MPs are leaking classified information to the press or even that there is any risk of that happening in New Zealand.

                    • Bob

                      “This isn’t getting through to you is it?”
                      It seems this isn’t getting through to you. Here, this puts it in layman’s terms for you:
                      “These privileges include Article 9 of the Bill of Rights 1688, which provides for freedom of speech in Parliament”
                      ‘IN’ Parliament being the operative word, an email to an external party is equivalent to a discussion outside of parliament, privilege does not extend outside of parliament:

                      “The Parliamentary Privilege Act 2014 (section 10) defines what “proceedings in Parliament” are, that is “all words spoken and acts done in the course of, or for purposes of or incidental to, the transacting of the business of the House or of a committee.”
                      However, if the words said in parliamentary proceedings (the House and its committees) are repeated elsewhere, the protection of parliamentary privilege does not apply”
                      Sending emails to the media does not constitute ‘business of the House or of a committee’.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      There is no evidence any MPs are leaking classified information to the press or even that there is any risk of that happening in New Zealand.

                      Apart from the Prime Minister setting up a ratfucking factory in his office, and various other Ministers following suit. Not that the recipient of their effluent is a journalist’s arse.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Sending emails to the media does not constitute ‘business of the House or of a committee’.

                      Yes, it does. Communicating with the Fourth Estate is part of the job description.

                      I repeat, anything they can say in the house, they can put in an email. The Privileges Committee is the gatekeeper, not Parliamentary Services.

                      As you will see.

                    • Well sure OAB, but none of the information they’re leaking is classified, lol.

                      Bob: I would highly caution you against assuming that because the law appears to say one thing in plain English that it can actually be interpreted that way. I was discussing above with OAB that it’s entirely possible that “the business of the House” can be interpreted in a wide-ranging way to include email correspondence, if, for instance, you think that corresponding with constitutuents from the Parliamentary grounds is “House business.”

                      In practice there is a lot of nuance and even some degree of politics to these things and ultimately it is for the Priveleges committee to decide what is and isn’t covered under Parliamentary privilege, but I think it pretty likely that MPs are going to rule that their emails are in fact House business if the matter ever comes up, especially given that the Speaker thinks it reasonable to stop people tweeting things he doesn’t like from inside the debating chamber.

                    • Infused

                      Bob has nailed this tbh. This is how IRM works. The doc may not have been removed.. yeah whoops.

      • Michelle 1.2.2

        are you referring to spying technology

        • This isn’t spying technology. This is a standard feature in email system that allows you to selectively (or even universally) restrict the ability to send certain attachments.

          That said, it could potentially be applied in such a way that it would copy another email account in to “review” the message to see if it could be released safely. If that were the case, then functionally it has undermined the confidentiality of MPs communications with the public even if it wasn’t intended to be used that way.

          • Infused

            If it was set-up to be used this way, then someone, somewhere, had the authority to do this.

            • Matthew Whitehead

              ….no they don’t. Only the privileges committee has the authority to decide on this sort of thing, and Chris Hipkins is a member of said committee, so he would have bloody well known if they’d decided any such thing.

              Parliament isn’t a corporate environment where MPs are employees. The MPs are the ones in charge, and Parliamentary Services are something like their contractors.

      • WILD KATIPO 1.2.3

        Perhaps, … and I’m sure Tricky Dicky didn’t care much for technology as long as he got results,… but somehow I don’t think Hipkins is anywhere in the same league as he’s not a corrupt back door man like Tricky was….

        But failing that, maybe technology’s gone to far. I have a solution for legal, technical and privacy issues, however….

    • Anne 1.3

      Don’t know what happened with that link but here’s another go:

    • Michelle 1.4

      No wonder the tories have an upper hand they have been abusing there spying powers the ones they said nothing to hide nothing to fear

  2. b waghorn 2

    I wonder if the national mp’s are having theirs blocked , or is it just the opposition?

  3. BM 3

    Why is Chris Hipkins receiving emails that breach a security classification?

    Is there stuff in this email he shouldn’t be reading, if so, who sent it and why?

    • Stuart Munro 3.1

      Probably the Gnat troll payroll list.

    • TC 3.2

      Yes dear, diversion tr@lling today I see dear. Wrap up well against the cold dear.

    • alwyn 3.3

      Hipkins, like any other MP, should be able to send or receive anything he damn well pleases.
      That is why they have Parliamentary privilege.
      If he releases something he really shouldn’t have he will just have to take any flak at an election.

    • Anne 3.4

      It was an OIA response which included information that had previously been classified. It was no longer classified so he was presumably entitled to receive it.

      • BM 3.4.1

        If that’s all it is, why is Richie Cunningham getting so bent out of shape.?

        So typical of left MPs, always turning every thing into a massive drama.

        • Lanthanide

          I agree this is typical of left-wing MPs. The way it’s been portrayed, it sounds like some horrible conspiracy.

          When actually, it is most likely some idiots in Parliamentary Services overstepping their bounds and trying to put in a well-intentioned filter to stop leaks without realising what an error in judgement that was.

          Instead of approaching it from that angle (giving them the benefit of the doubt), it’s cooked into something that resembles a conspiracy theory.

          The Greens did the same thing with Mojo Mather’s request for additional funding to support her in Parliament initially being put into review by the speaker. Apparently they were offended that the speaker didn’t just say “yes” to whatever they were demanding.

          • Matthew Whitehead

            Uh, in that case they had a right to be offended that a disabled MP wasn’t immediately granted the necessary funding to assist her in doing her job. That’s not liberal hand-waving.

            Did Chris Hipkins potentially over-react? Yes. But then again, the matter he’s discussing is serious enough that you can understand why it caused an over-reaction, and besides which, such filters probably shouldn’t be in place for MPs.

            • BM

              “I know that National is now cosying up to (Fiji Prime Minister) Frank Bainimarama, but that doesn’t mean they can adopt his dictatorial, anti-democratic methods here in New Zealand,” he said.


              When he makes these sort of comments it rather shows what his real motivation is.

              Seriously, what a complete and utter tool, don’t these Labour politicians ever learn?

              • Muttonbird

                Aside from that. It’s curious straight after John Key’s visit to Fiji to ‘thaw’ relations, Bananrama starts locking up the opposition.

                There are parallels between what Frank is doing in Fiji and what Key has been doing in New Zealand. See ‘Dirty Politics’, by Nicky Hager.

              • Mate, you don’t want to stack up Chris Hipkins against John Key for “stupidest things said.” Key will lose.

              • srylands

                The Seemail system that looks for trigger words in emails was implemented by the CLARK government. It was trialed in 2005 and rolled out in 2007. As far as I know the current Government has made no changes.

                The system is designed to stop public servants from inadvertently sending secure emails by insecure means.

                It is a legitimate question as to whether Seemail should extend to MPS. But Hipkins becoming hysterical and blaming John Key is misguided. Why can’t the guy do some research and then engage in polite debate?

              • righty right

                it is a well known fact that the goal of the opposition is bring down the rightful rulers of this country the labour party is a subversive organization
                and a threat to the status quo . labour just doesn’t understand the right of divine rule its only right there activities mps members should be monitored/arrested.

            • Lanthanide

              But Smith said he had to consult with all MPs before providing extra staff time – or “support hours” – for the note-taking.

              ”It’s separately appropriated by Parliament, I can’t under the law simply say …lets put a bit of money in here,” he said. ”It’s something that I have to consult on… before I seek to alter any of the staffing support for member which is allocated in hours.”

              He added: ”The question I’m confronted with is: Have we asked the taxpayer for sufficient support for members of Parliament and should we think about how we utilise our support to make sure all members of parliament get the staffing support they needed? Or do I go to the Government and say we need an extra appropriation because there is not enough provided for members of Parliament?”

              Lockwood was following the rules, but the Greens acted like he’d permanently shut the book on any extra funding for her.

              • Lockwood was following the rules on some of the requests. Arguably the things like real-time captioning are required given our acknowledgement of NZSL as an official language and should have been implemented a long time ago.

                The issues were that this was in doubt, and that it looked likely that Mojo would have to spend a fair amount of time in Parliament without the support she needed to follow what was going on in the debating chamber, which would have been a bad outcome for everyone, I think.

                • Lanthanide

                  Another story I googled on it, which was a few days before the one above I quoted from, said that Lockwood Smith was temporarily paying for Mojo’s support from his own budget, on his own discretion, until such time as the process had been followed and a decision made.

                  The Greens acted like it was the end of the world because the speaker chose to follow the process they were required to follow. It was very odd.

            • dukeofurl

              How is it an ‘over reaction’

              It became a story in the media which they gave background to the Speakers review.
              This is what MPs do all the time make public what they do.

              • Um, you read the bit comparing this to what Frank Bainimarama does in Fiji, right?

                John Key might be many things, but he’s not arresting the opposition for having meetings he hasn’t licensed them to have just yet.

      • alwyn 3.4.2

        Hipkins wasn’t receiving it. He was sending it on to a journalist.
        Hipkins was the one who had got it via an OIA request. If they gave it to him it is putting it in the public domain and it is available to anyone at all.

        • BM

          Seems a bit of an over reaction by Hipkins, couldn’t he have sorted it out without running off to the media and making a big song and dance?

          • Infused

            It’s a bullshit over reaction which is why I’ve commented on it. As if someone is going to sit there and read all mps emails. Some people are really inept when it comes to it

            • Lanthanide

              Can you quote where Chris Hipkins said that someone was reading the emails? Because I’m pretty sure you’ve just made that up.

            • Matthew Whitehead

              Well given that one of the two settings you can get on this kind of filtering regime will automatically send anything it picks up as an unapproved attachment to a seperate inbox for review, it was an eminently reasonable concern that someone would end up reading the content of at least some of his emails.

          • Lanthanide

            Well he did ask about it, and was told that they are deliberately screening emails.

            I think raising it with the speaker and going to the media was correct. But the way in which he has communicated it with the media is very over-egged.

            • dukeofurl

              Considering it was a communication with the media that was blocked, why not raise it with the media.
              This IS a big deal that they are screening MPS outgoing email. Parliamentary services is NOT their employer

        • Anne

          Have you been over-doing the black coffee this morning Alwyn? PS was caught out monitoring Opps. MP emails. Doesn’t matter whether it was by way of technological equipment or with direct human contact – or whether it was by accident which I very much doubt – it is a sinister development and must stop.

          • alwyn

            What on earth does this comment have to do with anything I said?
            It isn’t relevant to my 1.1. That was just clarifying what Hipkins said which was that he didn’t actually know whose emails were really being monitored and that he can’t know as you imply that it was only the opposition.

            It obviously has nothing to do with my 3.3 which is totally on Hipkins’ side. MPs should be able to get and receive anything.

            Neither is it relevant to my 3.4.2 which is merely correcting your apparent understanding that it was something Hipkins was receiving. It was something he was sending.

            You do realise, I assume, that Parliamentary Services don’t work for the Government and is not part of the Public Service? They work for Parliament itself and in fact are responsible to the Speaker and a committee which includes Mr Hipkins. There is no Minister involved at all so if they are misbehaving it is Mr Hipkins and the committee he is part of which should carry the can.

    • Brigid 3.5

      You sound worried BM.
      When you say ‘stuff’ in this email he shouldn’t be reading do you mean naughty words like ‘bum’ and ‘tit’?
      Should we all be worried?

    • whispering kate 3.6

      BM – It was a document he had lawfully received under the Official Information Act and was attached to his email.

  4. inscriber 4

    More likely it’s the new Seemail system and parliamentary services have mucked up its implementation by putting Lab ion the wrong classification. No one cares what Ginger is telling his colleagues about what the polls are really saying

  5. Infused 5

    You need to learn how this process works. It’s automated and used by many companies for sensitive information and documents.

    • dukeofurl 5.1

      Parliamentary services isnt some MPs company overlord. No doubt they have the latest software from Palantir or somesuch group as part of ‘whole of government’ tender.
      Apart from virus’s they shouldnt be concerned with the contents of any MPs mail.

      Now National ministers- that would be a different story

      • Infused 5.1.1

        You don’t understand. It looks for phrases or words which raise a flag for manual review. Just like spam etc.

        It also scans pdfs etc using our technology

      • Infused 5.1.2

        Exchange server has the power to do this on its own. But more sophisticated spam services have more advanced versions.

        • dukeofurl

          Whats this rubbish about spam you are talking about- its an outgoing email.

          Its definitely looking for ‘classified’ material. Thats a whole different level to spam and a list of rude words.

          manual review ? It was blocked so its automated. Please remember we are well past 2002 now in what these sort of things can do

          • Infused

            spam is scanned both in-bound and out-bound.

            It would be looking at a lot of things. Again, you simply don’t understand it. I’ve posted links to how this works. Spam is blocked and put in quarantine if needed, the same applies here. Chris may have got an automated message about this, because like I’ve said before, it will be applied to everyone.

            • One Two

              Go ahead and list the technologies and applications being used as you seem to ‘know’ so much about it

              • Infused

                I’ve listed the main ones.

                • One Two

                  Sure the in built functionality has been listed

                  Unless you work for the enterprise team which designs and supports the platforms, all you can do is speculate the COTS products, which is what you have done

                  Claiming to have worked for counts for little to nothing when it comes to knowing the ‘tech’ being used on government architecture

          • Matthew Whitehead

            Infused is sorta correct, the technology behind picking up unauthorised outbound files is basically the same thing as a traditional inbound spam filter, except it’s applied to outbound emails (or their attachments) instead.

            You can set the system to forward blocked emails for review and release, in which case, yes, someone would have had the opportunity to read the content of Chris Hipkins’ email, and it could have been released looking exactly as if it had never been intercepted.

    • Gabby 5.2

      So the guy/ess who told him he could whistle for his email was automated? Was it Rimmer Seemorecoq?

    • BM 5.3

      Don’t be so naive, this is obviously the 16 eyes super spy network covertly running in the background on the orders of John Key lizard masters to subvert and crush the democratic state of NZ.

      Wake up man.

      • Gabby 5.3.1

        Or a jumped-up little tit who knows which side his/her bread is buttered on.

      • dukeofurl 5.3.2

        Since when have you ‘become’ an expert on information security and the numerous ways its subverted by the transnational security services ?
        Im sure you have more knowledge about ways to tie your shoe laces than It security and methods

        • Infused

          Well I am. I’ve done work for govt services as well as one.govt providers. I know how it works.

    • You need to learn how this process works. It’s automated and used by many companies for sensitive information and documents.

      It is indeed. At my place, if you’re using work computers, network and email software the owner of said items reserves the right to do whatever the fuck it likes with your usage of those items, including running automated monitoring systems over your email traffic, and good so.

      Thing is, Parliamentary Services isn’t Hipkins’ employer and the above doesn’t apply to him. In fact, interfering with his email is a breach of Parliamentary privilege, which is a crime. Hipkins’ claims are not “bullshit.” Pretending those workplace rules apply to an MP’s email is what’s bullshit.

      • Gangnam Style 5.4.1

        “Pretending those workplace rules apply to an MP’s email is what’s bullshit.” Absolutely! What do these muppets think the oppositions job is? Just to support the present Govt? They, like the media, are a safeguard against the kinda crap that is happening in Fiji.

      • Draco T Bastard 5.4.2



  6. Reality 6

    The infantile, schoolboy level and unintelligent responses here could be funny except the lack of a reasonable IQ must be a worry to their nearest and dearest.

    Chris Hipkins has every right to be concerned, especially if Parliamentary Service has not informed users of their level of scrutiny.

    • dukeofurl 6.1

      To be honest , if I was an Mp I would assume they are tracking all my emails and their recipients and i would be using my mobile as a tethered device to send and receive more sensitive items

    • Infused 6.2

      This is why everyone keeps laughing at Labour. To the some-what technically inclined, this makes Chris Hipkins, and a greater extent, the Labour party, look stupid.

      • TC 6.2.1

        Good point as they did have Clare curran in the tech spokesperson role for awhile….facepalm

      • mac1 6.2.2

        Which is why the National party chief whip also echoed Hipkin’s concern?

      • Draco T Bastard 6.2.3

        No, it shows that Parliamentary Services are over stepping their bounds and Labour are doing their job in bringing that to light.

        The people who are looking stupid are the people, such as yourself, who are defending this corrupt action.

        • righty right

          The people who are looking stupid are the people, such as yourself, who are defending this corrupt action.

          national are born to rule our position our absolute entitlement to power must be maintained Chris hipkins was attempting to undermine government policy commit economic vandalism and was caught out the diligence and foresight
          of parliamentary services they know and understand who are the natural party of government john key should take emergency rule elections are a risk

  7. save nz 7


  8. Leftie 8

    The insidious dictatorship of the key National government is having its rivals illegally spied on, just like John key abused the powers of the GCSB to have Tim Groser’s rivals, (for the WTO job), spied on.

    • Gangnam Style 8.1

      Yep, & here we have the JK supporters defending it! (With apologies to Alwyn who can see the bigger picture, noted).

  9. Heather Grimwood 9

    To Anne at 1 : Sinister indeed. I have always warned that hardcopy communication (i.e. old-fashioned letters ) is the safest way to send sensitive material. Maybe now, registered courier post would be better, though guess there are ways of getting round even that.
    This present exposure of snooping is truly something for all citizens to be truly concerned about.It is not extreme to call it frightening.

  10. BobInAkl 10

    Putting aside the appropriateness of scanning MP’s email for a minute, does the specifc definition of ‘Parliamentary privilege’ apply?

    Does it not only apply to what is spoken in the house?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 10.1

      “Speaking” includes sending email.

      The media might get into trouble for repeating said speech, but they have to be able to hear it first.

    • No, it applies to all “business of the House,” and explicitly includes submissions to select committees as well, and anything incidental to business of the House.

      The question (and this is one for the privileges committee) is whether emails to MPs count as business of the House. I would expect they do, given that correspondence with constituents is critical to an effective Question Time. And even failing that, you could always argue that emails are incidental to House business.

  11. esoteric pineapples 11

    “The issue brought back memories of the leaking of the Kitteridge report controversy where Peter Dunne’s emails and reporter Andrea Vance’s metadata collected by Parliamentary Services were released to David Henry who was conducting an inquiry into who leaked the Kitteridge Report.”

    That was the moment Peter Dunne sold his soul. There was stuff in that controversy that was never properly explained. John Key seemed to be very knowing when he said he didn’t think Dunne was going to be a problem. Some sort of deal was made and the true nature of the transaction between Vance and Dunne was kept secret. Dunne was never that independent before that but since then he has been well and truly owned by the government.

  12. Rosie 12

    I have been having a lot of email traffic over the last three weeks with Jonathan Coleman and Annette King and their secretaries and E.A’s regarding a health issue and CCDHB inaction.

    I am now so glad that I didn’t let slip my plans to the opposition spokesperson for health about my plans to swap Coleman’s lunch meals with hospital meals from Compass, otherwise, anyone could have found out – and warned him!

    Seriously, knowing what went down previously Labour’s computers being accessed in parliament building, and what happened to Dunne, I wouldn’t trust the security of any parliamentary emails now days.

    Constituents need to be able to have honest conversations with their MP’s and need to be able to trust their information is only in the hands of those they chose to share it with, so yes, they “need to stop f- ing doing it”

  13. Chuck 13

    Re: Rosie

    “I am now so glad that I didn’t let slip my plans to the opposition spokesperson for health about my plans to swap Coleman’s lunch meals with hospital meals from Compass, otherwise, anyone could have found out – and warned him!”

    Had a family member in hospital for a week, the compass meals were ok. So no need to warn anyone 🙂

    “Constituents need to be able to have honest conversations with their MP’s and need to be able to trust their information is only in the hands of those they chose to share it with, so yes, they “need to stop f- ing doing it”

    As for emails…its the number 1 way networks are compromised. So a network needs anti-spam, antivirus and anti-malware along with content filtering.

  14. Doug 14

    Claire Trevett @CTrevettNZH

    Parliamentary Service says the SEEMail system which scans MPs’ emails was introduced prior to 2007.

    • Chuck 14.1

      But but Hipkins (and our own Leftie @8) were sure it was that nasty John Key’s idea to spy on him!

      • WILD KATIPO 14.1.1

        @ Chucky Ducky ,… but but but … Keysee Weesey has a lot to hide,…and and and… well phsaw,…you being American and all… you know how it is… you gotta keep those liberal hippy’s and trade unionist pinkos in line somehow , eh.

        Put the fear of hellfire up em and keep em from getting too uppity – like.

        And certainly stop em thinking of Red things like Parliamentary Privilege , privacy laws , democratic procedures and all those sorts of commie issues…


        Goddamn we support democracy , don’t we , ‘ Chuck’.

      • Guess it goes to prove the old saying that you should never attribute to malice what you can instead blame on stupidity. 😉 Someone in Parliamentary Services clearly didn’t realise it was a Big Deal to start filtering MP’s emails without bringing it up with the Speaker’s office.

      • Leftie 14.1.3

        John key and his Nats have form Chuck. This was never an issue under Labour.

    • @ Dougie wougie …How peculiar….sooooo….either back then it wasnt deemed as ‘ necessary’ as it is now with Keys dirty politics style, … or perhaps the new budget hike for all things surveillance is like kiddies with new toys – their just itching to try them out. So why not a few scrub opposition MP’s?… it doesn’t matter anyways, we are a one party state now so the opposition is just a figurehead of an archaic political system ,….


  15. Henry Filth 15

    ” . . . document attached to his email contained “sensitive words” that were in violation of government security classifications.”

    Infused’s link pointed to a system whereby the security was at the document level, whereas the quote above indicates that the security is within the document. Those seem to be quite different things.

    One simply says “you can’t access this document”, the other says “I’ve read your letter, and as a result of reading your letter, I’ve decided to. . . . ”

    Scary stuff indeed, if I have it right. But have I?

  16. Richard Rawshark 16

    I would imagine any classified document that hasn’t been declassified will flag a bloody issue when even faxed out! If it wasn’t declassified Chris may have just sent it on before they had time. I would doubt the Nats give a rats arse what the labour party is saying TBH..they do have stuff to do..i’d hope.

    That’s what server administration does anyways. I’d imagine our spy’s heard about it straight away. Flagged and all.

    Chris doesn’t understand computers obviously or security. A few here hit the nail on the head.

    Sinister I very much doubt it, and frankly this will have been active under all governments some of the less clueless MP’s just don’t know it.

    State security and all that.

  17. Ralf Crown 17

    Welcome to the real New Zealand. Everyone is now snooped on by Big Brother, including Ewen Me. How about resolving and dumping the Key Issue next election.

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