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Surveillance state

Written By: - Date published: 9:26 am, October 16th, 2009 - 19 comments
Categories: law and "order", national, Spying - Tags: ,

One of the most dishonest, yet most successful tactics of National in opposition was to rant on and on about the “Nanny state”. Here’s John Key fairly foaming at the mouth:

I’ve had nine years of being told what lightbulb I can screw into the house, what shower I can take, what food I can eat, what things I can do, what thoughts I am allowed to have.

Count them – five progressively stupider lies in one sentence! But it all gets taken seriously by the media, and the “Nanny state” meme does its damage. I must confess that it amuses me now to watch this meme turning on its master, and the growing horror of far right voters as they face the realisation that this government is a far bigger nanny than Labour ever was. In just a few short months National have stuck to their guns on Section 59 reform (Bravo!), want to ban cell phones for drivers, are planning revisions to alcohol limits, are regulating cold medication and other products, are banning certain kinds of chainsaws. Nanny is even reminding us to brush our teeth at night. Eventually even The Herald had to ask “Is National also guilty of ‘nanny-state’ policies?“. Umm, that would be a yes, yes they are.

The serious side to all this is that we might just switch off and stop paying attention to claims of state interference. That would be a disaster, because some kinds of interference are a lot more significant than others. Heads up people, here’s two current bills that we should really be taking seriously. Both were introduced by the last Labour government, both are (in my opinion) dangerously flawed, and both are being advanced by the current government (Simon Power). The first is the “Search and Surveillance Powers Bill”. While some of its aims make sense (there’s a balanced evaluation here) in other respects it goes too far. Concerns have been expressed by the Privacy Commissioner as reported in this morning’s Herald here, and are strongly stated in this summary:

Govt plans to increase surveillance powers

Activists say the Government’s plans to extend police powers of search and surveillance effectively lead New Zealand toward a police state – but the Government says the bill is aimed at improving powers to catch real criminals.

“Anybody who’s arrested or detained, police have the right to go an search their place without a warrant,” says activist Annemarie Thorby. “We are going down an extremely dangerous line in terms of democracy in this country,” says activist Graham Howell.

The bill is intended to enable police and regulators to catch criminals with more up-to-date techniques. It will see homes or businesses searched without a warrant. Police carrying out greater surveillance using any available technique, including searching computers without a warrant – and that means everything on the computer, not just what’s of initial interest, and it could be done remotely – effectively hacking. Also, people will be forced to answer questions, losing the right to silence.”

The second bill is the “Criminal Investigations (Bodily Samples) Amendment Bill”, described by Labour MP Charles Chauvel at Red Alert here:

Parliament is in the process of passing the Criminal Investigations (Bodily Samples) Amendment Bill. It would allow the Police to take DNA samples when they arrest anyone.

I can see the possibilities for better crime prevention in this proposal. But I’m troubled by the lack of any checks and balances in the Bill. A similar English law was set aside by the European Cout of Human Rights on that ground, and the Attorney-General has certified that the NZ Bill breaches the NZ Bill of Rights Act.

I put an amendment up tonight, further to a Labour caucus resolution, that would have required the Police to get a warrant before taking DNA. … The Greens, Progressives and Maori Party voted with Labour for the amendment. Peter Dunne voted against. So did ACT (so much for being ‘the liberal party’). And so did the Nats, without really bothering to say why. I guess they think it will play well out in talkbackland. … Not a good day for civil liberties.

It is great to see that Labour recognised the problems with the second bill and tried to address them. National blocked that effort and is proceeding with the flawed bill! Labour must now acknowledge the problems with the first bill and move to fix that too. Will National once again ignore feedback and ram this through? Will National bring us warrantless surveillance and DNA sampling, and take away the right to silence? After all their hypocritical posturing about the Nanny state, will National bring us the Surveillance state instead? Those of you who voted for National – was this what you wanted? If not, what are you going to do about it?


19 comments on “Surveillance state”

  1. BLiP 1

    You didn’t mention the most “nannyish” of the National Ltd®’s policies – remember the OECD report on child poverty – at the time in a hastily scrambled together pile of non-responses, Basher Bennett promised that hospital staff would talk to all new parents in Auckland City about the dangers of shaking babies. Nothing’s happened, of course. She also promised that there would be an “expert” forum brought together to discuss the poverty situation in October – that uncosted iniative still hasn’t happened, I see from Basher’s site she is now saying she expects to hear something “before the end of the year”.

    And now National Ltd® wants the police to wander in and out of my home without a warrant – this from the party with a “Vision For New Zealand” that includes “individual freedom and choice . . . personal responsibility . . . and limited government”!! – 111 – !!!

  2. roger nome 2

    lol – reality truly is stranger than fiction at times. What a tangled web we weave Mr Key!

  3. rocky 3

    On the first bill – it was originally put up by Annette King in the last parliamentary term. Simon Power has now adopted it with very few changes. I understand Charles Chauvel and Lianne Dalziel are now responsible inside the Labour caucus.

    While National are now the main target on this issue since they are in government, one mustn’t forget that pressure is urgently needed on Labour on this issue to stop them voting for it.

    Keith Locke is on the Law and Order Select Committee for the Greens, and he’s not hopeful that the extreme surveillance powers will be removed.

    The thing is this bill originated with the need for the law to keep up with technology. Great motive, and there are some good parts to the bill in that respect. The problem is, rather than putting appropriate safeguards in place where there are issues of civil liberties, they seem to be simply trying to blanket make everything done by law enforcement legal.

    So when is Labour going to wake up? They haven’t cared about these issues before (as I well know from my very personal experiences).

    • r0b 3.1

      pressure is urgently needed on Labour on this issue to stop them voting for it.

      Hear hear! It’s OK to make mistakes drafting legislation, it’s hard to get right, that’s why we have a proper parliamentary process.

      It isn’t OK to ignore those mistakes once they are pointed out and ram through flawed legislation. Which is what National (and their frequent abuse of urgency) seem to be about to do.

      (And to save some Righty the effort, yes Labour’s draft EFB was flawed too, but most of the mistakes were caught and fixed by the proper process to produce the EFA, which National now seem to want to keep mostly as is.)

      • Quoth the Raven 3.1.1

        It’s OK to make mistakes drafting legislation, it’s hard to get right, that’s why we have a proper parliamentary process.

        Ignoring civil liberties is just a mistake in drafting? You should ask the question why they thought to put such things in the draft in the first place. It’s part of pattern from Labour they are after all the party that eroded civil liberties with the Terrorism suppression act and who constantly cranked up the law and order bullshit ever higher the entire time they were in power. As No Right Turn points out Labour “has culture of contempt for the BORA”.

        It seems it doesn’t matter who you vote for you’ll get Labtional in power and the assault on our liberty that it entails.

        • r0b

          Ignoring civil liberties is just a mistake in drafting? You should ask the question why they thought to put such things in the draft in the first place

          I haven’t read the bills, I don’t know if the excessive powers were (1) the explicit point of the legislation (I hope not! – if so Labour got it badly wrong) or (2) the result of possible readings of poorly drafted clauses (which would be understandable as it is hard to create new powers as necessary to modernise without risking having them over general).

          Either way the question is what happens next. Labour tried to patch the second bill but National are forcing it through. Both Labour and National now need to make their position on the first bill clear…

  4. I despair when I realise how little people in general think about this sort of intrusion and what it means. It is, for historical and philosophical reasons, one of the major points of intersection between (some of) the Left and Libertarian Right. National should be isolated in Parliament on this.

  5. Draco T Bastard 5

    After all their hypocritical posturing about the Nanny state, will National bring us the Surveillance state instead?

    Of course they will – they’re full on authoritarians.

  6. Lew 6

    This isn’t nanny state — it’s just common sense.

    Only a fasocialist wouldn’t not be unable to see that.


    • IrishBill 6.1

      Don’t you have better things to do today than mock-troll the Standard?

      • Lew 6.1.1

        Mockery isn’t directed at The Standard, it’s directed at the real trolls — the people who make these sorts of arguments for reals.


        • lprent

          When I’m moderating I scan the comment content and my hackles rise when I see yours. It takes a time to notice who, drop into the comment stream to find out why, and then let the hackles drop. That was what Irish was referring to…. It is irritating for moderators.

          Besides your mockery is too modest – try reading big_bruv unmoderated posting (not just commenting) on Clint Heines blog. Look at the post on doing jury service if you want to get a true parody of a human being.

        • r0b

          Isn’t it odd that there’s a distinct absence of real trolls! Looks like no one at all is going to defend these bills.

          But they will come to pass unless people stand up an oppose them. Hello – Herald – time to dust of those “Democracy Under Attack” banners!

  7. Lew 7

    Honestly, it just gets a bit dull typing variations on ‘Yes, I agree’ over and again. I’ve even been agreeing with Marty recently; I don’t know what’s gotten into me. Or yous fullas.

    I do have better things I ought to be doing.


  8. The Voice of Reason 8

    “Isn’t it odd that there’s a distinct absence of real trolls! Looks like no one at all is going to defend these bills.”

    It’s not odd at all, r0b, it’s just cowardice.

    Yesterday, Irish Bill banished Timmy, the King of all the Trolls, to a month in the wilderness and now the little trolls are too scared to come out of the cave.

    • Kevin Welsh 8.1

      I have noticed the same. Its been gold for those on the left the last couple of weeks and the wingnut apologists have been conspicuous by their absence.

      Would just like to see Labour go for he jugular a little more as it would be nice to see Smith tip over the edge finally. Completely out of his depth on ACC and ETS.

      Alice tried his usual bullshit on Red Alert yesterday and got nailed good and proper. Made my day 🙂

  9. Rex Widerstrom 9

    This all ties back in to the Bakshi thread (or at least my comment therein). It’s an unholy trade-off between politicians and the police and it has to stop. Or be stopped. And it’s clear we can’t look to Labour to stand up for our freedoms when they’re busy colluding on ways to destroy them.

    And let’s not forget the fact that some time ago our own Chief Justice tried telling us the Emperor has no clothes when it comes to “justice” and was attacked by National to the craven silence of Labour.

    And ironically today another Chief Justice is trying to tell citizens that politicians and the media are lying to them:

    Chief Justice Wayne Martin said the government was responding to problems that did not exist.

    “Alarm arises from the fact that public perception appears to be driving public policy, and in particular driving the parliamentary branch of government to respond to perceived problems, which do not in fact exist,” he told journalism students.

    “Many in our community consider that our community is being swamped by a wave of crime of tsunami-like proportions, to which the judiciary is responding insipidly with increasingly lenient sentences. Neither of these things is true.”

    And the Attorney General’s response?

    “It is a fundamental mistake to think people’s views that crime is increasing are false perceptions created by the media,” he said

    It’s often said there’s only two ways to defend freedom – the bullet or the ballot box.

    Not that I want the first option, but NZ is so apathetic, all the government would need to do is schedule an All Blacks match on the appropriate day and no one would turn up to the Revolution.

    So that rules out bullets. Who’s going to give us the easy option of ticking a ballot box for a party that truly upholds freedom?

    [And kudos r0b, first for highlighting these issues and secondly for accepting Labour’s role in them]

  10. r0b 10

    [And kudos r0b, first for highlighting these issues and secondly for accepting Labour’s role in them]

    I’m not here for the Labour Party Rex, I’m here for a healthy society. I happen to think that the Labour / Green mix is almost always the best way to deliver that, but if they screw up then I’d hope to be one of the ones telling them so.

    And as for the AG: “It is a fundamental mistake to think people’s views that crime is increasing are false perceptions created by the media,’ – the AG needs to get a clue on this issue. The reporting of crime and the manipulation of fears about crime by unethical politicians is a travesty in NZ.

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