- Date published:
11:48 pm, May 28th, 2019 - 216 comments
Categories: crime, law, police, political parties, politicans, Politics, Simon Bridges, Social issues, uncategorized - Tags: Budget 2019, computer crime, computer systems, criminal receiving, journalists
You have to wonder about what kind of law Simon Bridges, a former criminal prosecutor, actually practiced. Should we start an inquiry into his former cases? Because given the events of today – it seems questionable if he understands the legal basis of our criminal laws. Do we really want someone so incompetent at his chosen profession before entering politics (or have a criminal receiver of stolen goods) to run this country?
What am I talking about… Well this.
Treasury has referred the apparent leaking of Budget information to police, saying it has sufficient evidence to indicate that its systems have been deliberately and systematically hacked.
But National leader Simon Bridges has hit back very hard, saying National had acted “entirely appropriately” and that finance minister Grant Robertson was attempting to smear his party to cover up incompetence – and would need to resign.
In a statement on Tuesday night, treasury secretary Gabriel Makhlouf said Treasury had taken immediate steps to increase the security of all Budget-related information and would be undertaking a full review of information security processes.
The laws on this are pretty clear these days – regardless what the police may have deluded themselves about in the past.
To explain that statement, I’m just reading Whale Oil by Margie Thompson, a book about Cameron Slater and his paid-for defamation of Matthew Blomfield. Essentially it is about Cameron Slater receiving and criminal using data from a computer system (as all inclusively defined in Crimes Act section 248). The police have spent the last 7 years not looking like they are even vaguely competent, in what started as a simple theft of information from a computer system – but more on that in a later post.
Basically anyone not having authorised access to material held on a computer or computer system and who extracts that information for a dishonest purpose is committing a criminal act.
So is anyone receiving and holding that stolen information. Just read it for yourself – these sections are Crimes Act…
This is section 249 covering theft from a computer system
249 Accessing computer system for dishonest purpose
(1) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who, directly or indirectly, accesses any computer system and thereby, dishonestly or by deception, and without claim of right,—
(a) obtains any property, privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration; or
(b) causes loss to any other person.
(2) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years who, directly or indirectly, accesses any computer system with intent, dishonestly or by deception, and without claim of right,—
(a) to obtain any property, privilege, service, pecuniary advantage, benefit, or valuable consideration; or
(b) to cause loss to any other person.
(3) In this section, deception has the same meaning as in section 240(2).
Similarly there is section 252
252 Accessing computer system without authorisation
(1) Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years who intentionally accesses, directly or indirectly, any computer system without authorisation, knowing that he or she is not authorised to access that computer system, or being reckless as to whether or not he or she is authorised to access that computer system.
(2) To avoid doubt, subsection (1) does not apply if a person who is authorised to access a computer system accesses that computer system for a purpose other than the one for which that person was given access.
Then there is section 246 on Receiving – I’ll skip a couple of irrelevent sub-sections
(1) Every one is guilty of receiving who receives any property stolen or obtained by any other imprisonable offence, knowing that property to have been stolen or so obtained, or being reckless as to whether or not the property had been stolen or so obtained.
(3) The act of receiving any property stolen or obtained by any other imprisonable offence is complete as soon as the offender has, either exclusively or jointly with the thief or any other person, possession of, or control over, the property or helps in concealing or disposing of the property.
Then of course there is section 310 about conspiracies to offend.
Plus from memory, there are a number of other acts with sections covering people thieving and receiving from computer systems.
Now I’m sure that Simon Bridges tends to think himself as being above the law … After all he said this as reported by Stuff earlier today
Bridges would not describe how the information came to him and refused to describe the information as a leak.
“I’m not going to say how I got this information, just as I wouldn’t expect journalists to, but I am confident in it.”
He said that the information he had was the extent of the information he had obtained and that the document released by the National Party had been compiled by them to protect its origin.
Now there are special provisions in our legal code to protect journalists and their sources. It always pays even for journalists to remember that this privilege is not absolute.
However there are no such provisions to protect political parties, nor their employees. So that Simon Bridges has dropped them right in it by claiming that they received the stolen information and massaged it for him to dispose of. That in itself is in itself a criminal offense.
Similarly, the provisions in the legal code to protect politicians are remarkably limited. They essentially only apply inside the house. As far as I can tell from the reports, these bits of stolen information were not released under parliamentary privilege.
This was up in 2015 by the Supreme Court when they dismissed an appeal against conviction for theft because a copy of a video that is copied is still the property of the original owner and having that copy is therefore theft. This has all kinds of interesting implications in terms of receiving and possessing a duplicate copy – even if the material is subsequently bit modified to pass to journalists.
I’m going to be fascinated on how the NZ Police handle this. After their interestingly politically biased screwups on the subject of theft from computers, they’d have to satisfy me that they are actually taking theft from computer systems seriously this time.
If theft was proved to have happened and regardless of who stole the information, they need to charge the receivers and profiters from stolen information. Unlike rawshark, there appears to be no question in this case who actually passed the information to the journalists, and they weren’t an journalist.
Of course, if the police do their usual half-arsed job, then I’ll happily help to get a competent private prosecution off the ground. That will include the required appeals off the ground to help the courts and police in their learning curve. But I’ll be fighting to do it completely in public as being in the public interest – after all what political parties consider to be criminal behaviour is very much in the public interest.
In the meantime, I’ll get back to this more interesting book.