Home > The Body Politic > Dom Post journos get it wrong – again!

Dom Post journos get it wrong – again!

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Key dismisses GCSB spying claims from Greenwald

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Yet again, journalists who are experienced, professional, and supposedly well-informed have made a mistake about the pre-amended GCSB Bill.  From the above  article written by  Tracy Watkins, Stacey Kirk, and Michael Fox stated,

The Government changed the law in the wake of revelations the GCSB may have spied illegally on more than 80 New Zealanders.

The law at that time supposedly prohibited them from doing so.

“Supposedly”?!

One. More. Time.

The GCSB Act 2003 was very specific in restricting the Bureau from spying on New Zealand citizens and permanent residents.  Section 14 of the Act stated with unambiguous, crystal  clarity;

14Interceptions not to target domestic communications
  • Neither the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person (not being a foreign organisation or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.

The law at the time could not have been any clearer. (Unless it was written in big red crayons!)

Key’s Official Party Line that the GCSB Act 2003 was “vague” or “flawed” was accepted almost without question by many journos too lazy to actually get on the internet and look up the law (as it stood at the time) for themselves.

There were exceptions though.

Audrey Young from the NZ Herald knew the Act very well, and said so in no uncertain terms;

The GCSB Act 2003 expressly forbids it from spying on the communications of New Zealanders.

But, by a series of snakes and ladders through the stated functions and objectives of the act, it convinced itself it was allowed to help the SIS and police spy on New Zealanders.

Another journo was Tracy Watkins from the Dominion Post;

“The GCSB’s interpretation of the law was so loose it managed to spy on 88 New Zealanders even though the law specifically stated it was not allowed to do so.”

The same Tracy Watkins who put her name to the more recent story above,  “Key dismisses GCSB spying claims from Greenwald” which suggested “the law at that time supposedly prohibited them from doing so”.

I can only assume Ms Watkins did not read that part of the story before putting her name to it.

Sloppy work.

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References

Fairfax media:  Key dismisses GCSB spying claims from Greenwald

Legislation: Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003

NZ Herald:  Spying on NZ: More power to watch us

Dominion Post:  Spy bungles start to entangle PM

Previous related blogposts

The GCSB Act – Tracy Watkins gets it right

Audrey Young on the GCSB

 


 

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nikki kaye jacinda ardern GCSB bill spying

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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= fs =

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  1. Deb Kean
    14 September 2014 at 3:18 pm

    Typical Dom Post from what I know… 😦
    Deb

    • 14 September 2014 at 9:46 pm

      Yep, disappointing, eh? *shakes head in disbelief*

  2. Tracy
    15 September 2014 at 5:02 am

    Didn’t the law go on to say ‘….Zealand, unless (and to the extent that) the person comes within the definition of foreign person or foreign organisation in section 4.’

    S4 makes provision for people connected to foreign owned company. I suspect that is where it got woolly in connection to Kim.com (with his overseas companies which the US was targeting).

    • 15 September 2014 at 9:14 am

      Tracy, in short – no.

      The original law (before the Legislative Amendment last year) stated;

      14 Interceptions not to target domestic communications

      Neither the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person (not being a foreign organisation or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.

      The National Government sponsored Amendment changed that Section, to wit,

      Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill (2013 No 109-1)

      The Act presently provides that neither the director, nor an employee of the GCSB, nor a person acting on behalf of the GCSB may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person (not being a foreign organisation or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident (Section 14 of the Act).

      The Bill reproduces the present provision but adds the following “” … unless and to the extent that the person comes within the definition of foreign person or foreign organisation in Section 4 [of the Act]”. The Bill also provides that any incidentally obtained intelligence is not obtained in breach of new

      Clause 8B, but must not be retained or disclosed except in accordance with Section 23 (headed: “Destruction of irrelevant records obtained by interception”) of the Act and New Section 25 (see immediately below) (Part 1, Clause 12, substituting Section 14 of the Act).

      http://www.parliament.nz/en-nz/pb/legislation/bills/digests/50PLLaw20461/government-communications-security-bureau-and-related-legislation

      You’re seeing the law as it was, and as it is now.

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