Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Government Communications Security Bureau’

Dear Michael Cullen: the GCSB is not International Rescue!

18 March 2016 6 comments

.

TB5

.

1.

.

When a spokesperson for the government tries to employ scare-tactics to persuade the public that increasing surveillance powers for various arms of the State – in this case the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) – is warranted, then suspicions arise.

In the week following the release of the first review of intelligence organisations in New Zealand, Michael Cullen  offered no less than three scare-tactics, that on the face of it, should send children and the naive running into the arms of spymasters at the SIS and GCSB.

On 10 March, Kathryn Ryan interviewed Michael Cullen on Radio NZ’s ‘Nine to Noon‘ show. Cullen was  one of the reviewers of our spy agencies.  In reply to questioning why the GCSB needed increased powers, he said;

@ 10.04

“…Suppose, let’s take an example, you know that a Chinese agent is arriving on a plane at an airport, for whatever reason you also know that they’re only going to be here for a short time but you’ve no idea what it is they’re going to be up to, and you can’t find a judicial commissioner, you know you’re only half an hour out from a landing kind of thing…”

@ 10.34

“…In extreme circumstances where you can’t find the Attorney General, or the the Minister deputed [sic] by the Prime Minister [to] act on the Attorney General’s behalf, or the judicial commissioner, then the Director can issue a warrant, but that’s in the case of immediate threat to life or the fact that if it doesn’t happen quickly then the opportunity to gather that intelligence will have passed…”

Aside from a “Yellow Peril” hint to Cullen’s reference to “a Chinese agent”, one has to ask why he is suggesting that the imminent arrival of such a person would strike fear into the heart of our government and it’s agencies.

Did the announcement that we are at war with China miss the 6PM news bulletin on both TV1 and TV3?

If  such a mythical “Chinese agent” is a “threat” to our security and well-being, then a simple phone call to New Zealand Customs should be sufficient to  detain the person and return him/her home on the next available flight.  NZ Customs already has this power, as Mario Quintela learned to his misfortune last February;

.

Portuguese tourist gifted free flight to NZ after immigration debacle

.

Not only was Mr Quintela detained after disembarking his flight; he was held for ten hours, and promptly deported thereafter. (As the story reports, Customs then had to pay for Mr Quintela‘s flight back to New Zealand.)

So why the “imminent arrival” of a foreign agent should send the GCSB or other state agency into a tizzy is unclear. Our Customs department already ‘has our backs’ on such matters.

Cullen then painted a frightening picture where “in extreme circumstances where you can’t find the Attorney General, or the the Minister deputed  by the Prime Minister [to] act on the Attorney General’s behalf or the judicial commissioner”.

Really? In the 21st century, with mobile phones, smartphones, email, faxes, landlines – Cullen is deeply concerned “where you can’t find the Attorney General, or the the Minister deputed [sic] by the Prime Minister [to] act on the Attorney General’s behalf, or the judicial commissioner“?!

If such an unlikely scenario ever eventuated, my concern would not be for the GCSB unable to have a warrant-to-surveil signed   – but where the hell our Attorney General, or the the Minister deputed [sic] by the Prime Minister [to] act on the Attorney General’s behalf, or the judicial  commissioner” were, that they could not be easily located.

Perhaps the most disingenuous,  anxiety-laden scenario from Cullen was his implausible Lost At Sea fantasy.  On Radio NZ’s Focus on Politics, Cullen maintained that expanding the GCSB’s surveillance powers was a “safety” issue;

@ 2.30

“Let us suppose a New Zealander is in imminent danger, in terms of their life overseas. Maybe lost at sea or some other example. Under this legislation as the GCSB feels it has to interpret it, the GCSB’s capacity to trace an individual’s cellphone and to say exactly where it is, cannot be used.

We have no way of finding out where that person is, using that capacity, in order to take immediate and urgent action, in whatever way, to try to protect the safety of that New Zealander.”

I call total bollocks on Cullen’s example.

Aside from the fact that most yachties and other vessels now use modern emergency locator beacons, if a New Zealander is in “imminent danger”, a bunch of spooks sitting in Pipitea House, Thorndon, listening in on conversations and reading emails and txt-messages are hardly likely to be in a position to facilitate rescue operations to assist a person “ lost at sea “.

Checking Google, using the search parameters “spy agency locates lost person at sea” did not yield a single example of a spy agency finding anyone in such dire straits.

The GCSB is a spy agency. International Rescue, it is not.

If by some bizarre chance the GCSB did pick up an SOS call, or locator beacon, no person in their right mind would object if the information was passed on to rescue services. By definition,  SOS calls cannot be considered “private communications” since they are broadcast far and wide to anyone capable of picking up the transmissions.

Cullen is fear-mongering.

.

2.

.

In the report,  Intelligence and Security in a Free Society Report of the First Independent Review of Intelligence and Security in New Zealand, under a section headed “Key Issues Identified“, the authors write;

7. It quickly became apparent to us that there were a number of deficiencies in the Agencies’ current legislative frameworks. The legislation establishing the Agencies is not comprehensive, is inconsistent between the two agencies, can be difficult to interpret and has not kept pace with the changing technological environment. This has led to some significant problems.

8. First, lack of clarity in the legislation means the Agencies and their oversight bodies are at times uncertain about what the law does and does not permit, which makes it difficult to ensure compliance. Critical reviews in the past have led the Agencies, particularly the GCSB, to take a very conservative approach to interpreting their legislation. While we understand the reason for this, and it is certainly preferable to a disregard for the law, this overly cautious approach does mean that the GCSB is not as effective or as efficient as it could be. The legislation needs to set out clearly what the Agencies can do, in what circumstances and subject to what protections for individuals.

It appears that Cullen and his co-author, Dame Patsy Reddy, are repeating the very same justifications that Key and other National ministers spouted in 2013, when they implemented an expansion of GCSB’s powers to legalise Bureau surveillance of New Zealanders.

.

Michael Cullen and Report co-author Patsy Reddy

Michael Cullen and Report co-author Patsy Reddy (Radio NZ)

.

On  9 April 2013, our esteemed Dear Leader claimed that the GCSB – as it stood at the time – was not “fit for purpose”;

In addition, the Act governing the GCSB is not fit for purpose and probably never has been.  It was not until this review was undertaken that the extent of this inadequacy was known

[…]

The advice we have recently received from the Solicitor-General is that there are difficulties interpreting the legislation and there is a risk some longstanding practices of providing assistance to other agencies would not be found to be lawful.

[…]

It is absolutely critical the GCSB has a clear legal framework to operate within.”

Now it appears that Cullen and Reddy are parroting the same rationale for advancing the “need” to expand the Bureau’s surveillance powers.

This appears to be the stock-standard meme that will be trotted out every time the government pushes for further extensions to State surveillance powers.

Council for Civil Liberties, chairperson, Thomas Beagle, was correct when he pointed out the obvious “mission creep” of stealthily increasing State surveillance in this country;

“I think it’s part of a shift towards an overall surveillance society and I think it’s part of a wider shift towards a government which is not of the people but a government which is actually working on the people.”

Cullen and Reddy have played their part in this latest chapter of an on-going process.

What next in two, five, or ten years’ time?

.

 

.

References

Parliament: Intelligence and Security in a Free Society Report of the First Independent Review of Intelligence and Security in New Zealand

Radio NZ: Nine To Noon – Spy law shake-up, heightened protection or erosion of privacy? (alt. link)

TVNZ News: Portuguese tourist gifted free flight to NZ after immigration debacle

Radio NZ: Focus on Politics – 11 March 2016  (alt. link)

Beehive: PM releases report into GCSB compliance

Radio NZ: Spy review aims to clarify powers

Additional

Radio NZ: Canada stops sharing Five Eyes data

The Guardian: Canada spy agency stops sharing intelligence with international partners

Other Blogs

Dim Post: Security and intelligence legislation: then and now

No Right Turn: As predicted

No Right Turn: The problem with the intelligence review

The Standard: New report on GCSB spying powers

Previous related blogposts

Audrey Young, Two Bains, old cars, and… cocoa?!?!

National Party president complains of covert filming – oh the rich irony!

An Open Message to the GCSB, SIS, NSA, and Uncle Tom Cobbly

Dear Leader, GCSB, and Kiwis in Wonderland

One Dunedinite’s response to the passing of the GCSB Bill

The GCSB Act – Tracy Watkins gets it right

The GCSB Act – some history

The GCSB – when plain english simply won’t do

The GCSB law – vague or crystal clear?

The Mendacities of Mr Key #1: The GCSB Bill

Campbell Live on the GCSB – latest revelations – TV3 – 20 May 2014

The real reason for the GCSB Bill

Letter to the Editor: John Campbell expose on Key and GCSB

A letter to the Dominion Post on the GCSB

Big Bro’ is Watching You!

The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!!

.

.

.

No more anarchy

.

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 13 March 2016.

.

.

= fs =

 

 

Advertisements

Letter to the Editor: When is privacy not privacy?

.

old-paper-with-quill-pen-vector_34-14879.

SIS

.

When we break the law, the police come calling.

When National does it, they just change the law.

That’s how it’s done in New Zealand, circa 21st Century…

.

 

.

FROM: "f.macskasy"
SUBJECT: Letters to the editor
DATE: Thu, 08 May 2014 11:32:27 +1200
TO: Listener  <letters@listener.co.nz>

.

The Editor
The Listner


.

John Key’s government passed legislation last year which
now legalises GCSB spying on New Zealanders, albeit with a
“warrant” and with Prime Ministerial “over-sight”.
Key says we now have legal protection to protect our
privacy.

Of course, that did not stop the GCSB from breaking the old
law, and spying on eightyeight New Zealanders. That’s
despite the old law being quite specific in it’s
prohibition on domestic spying;

Section 14 of the original Government Communications
Security Bureau Act 2003 was quite specific

“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.”

Which made a mockery of John Key’s mis-leading assertion
on  9 April last year;

“In addition, the Act governing the GCSB is not fit for
purpose and probably never has been. It was not until this
review was undertaken that the extent of this inadequacy was
known…”

Law-breaking and lies – the hallmark of National’s
behaviour on this issue.

But the supreme irony here?

John Key has allowed the GCSB to spy on New Zealanders or to
receive data on New Zealanders gathered by overseas spy
agencies - thereby circumventing the amended law.

But health-service providers are not allowed to share
information with family members, where necessary, because of
“privacy concerns”.

Monty Python couldn’t have scripted this farce any better.

-Frank Macskasy
[name & phone number supplied]

.

 

.


 

References

Radio NZ: Hear more of Ian Fletcher on Morning Report  (audio)

Dominion Post:   Spy boss denies mass surveillance

John Key.co.nz: PM releases report into GCSB compliance

Legislation.co.nz: Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003


 

.

SIS GCSB John Key spying police_state surveillance

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

.

.

= fs =

The Mendacities of Mr Key #1: The GCSB Bill

23 February 2014 9 comments

.

I lied  get over it!

.

In an on-going series, we will look at the half-truths; mis-representations; omissions; and outright lies, told by Dear Leader John Key.

1. The GCSB Bill

Background

Last year, upon revelations that the GCSB had illegally spied on 88 New Zealand citizens, Key  legitamised that law-breaking by passing the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill into law.

The official governmdent narrative was that the GCSB law was badly flawed; vague; and confusing.

Either in ignorance, or another of his pathetic lies, John Key maintained this fiction,

In addition, the Act governing the GCSB is not fit for purpose and probably never has been.  It was not until this review was undertaken that the extent of this inadequacy was known

[…]

The advice we have recently received from the Solicitor-General is that there are difficulties interpreting the legislation and there is a risk some longstanding practices of providing assistance to other agencies would not be found to be lawful.

[…]

It is absolutely critical the GCSB has a clear legal framework to operate within.”

Acknowledgement:  John Key – PM releases report into GCSB compliance

The proposition that the  2003 GCSB Act was “ not fit for purpose and probably never has been” is not supported by reality. In fact, the law was  crystal clear with it’s wording and intent. Section 14 of said Act stated with unambiguous 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.

Source: legislation.govt.nz – Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003

Conclusions:

  1. John Key wilfully mis-led the country, and in this blogger’s opinion, lied about the effectiveness of the law.
  2. The actual purpose of the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill was to legalise the GCSB’s illegal spying activities.
  3. Not only did the Amendment head off potential court action, but it legitamised ongoing spying on all New Zealanders, despite the original intentions of the Act  that this would never happen.

Charge: broken promise/deflection/half-truth/hypocrisy/outright lie/mis-information?

Verdict: outright lie.

 

 

.

*

.

References

NZ Legislation: Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill

Newstalk ZB: Govt data casts doubt on PM’s job comments

TV3: Key accused of spreading TPPA ‘mistruths’

NZ Herald: Toby Manhire – Chameleon Key delivers a masterstroke

Fairfax media:  Demystifying the GCSB bill: Spies and lies

Previous related blogposts

The real reason for the GCSB Bill

The GCSB Act – Tracy Watkins gets it right

The GCSB Act – some history…

The GCSB – when plain english simply won’t do

The GCSB law – vague or crystal clear?

A proposed Labour-Green-Mana(-NZ First?) agenda – part tahi

.

*

.

John Key is really hoping that dudes like me don't vote

Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 February 2014.

.

.

= fs =

The GCSB law – Oh FFS!!!

.

Continued from: The GCSB law – vague or crystal clear?

On TV3 News, this remarkable piece of “journalism”,

.

GCSB

“The law is so opaque it’s open to interpretation.”

Acknowledgement: TV3 News

.

The media in this country are asleep at the wheel. Or drugged. Something.

Their lazy interpretation of events  (when they even bother to cover stories of national importance – see:  Poisoned Legacy: Why is the News Media and the Left so bad at defending our freedoms?) has gone beyond incompetance – and is now firmly in the land of mis-information.

A prime example of various new media was Tova O’Brien on the evening of Wednesday 22 May 2013 on TV3 News. At about 6.5-6.10pm (and later that evening), she covered the on-going story of Paul Neazor’s report into the GCSB.

O’Brien stated matter of factly,

“The GCSB’s been cleared of breaking the law, but only just. The law ‘s so opaque it’s open to interpretation.The Prime Minister won’t won’t release the report into the spying on those eightyeight New Zealanders because it’s top secret, leaving the Opposition to continue to openly interpret it’s findings.”

Rubbish.

Has she or her news team actually read the f*****g Act?!?!

They can’t have. Otherwise they would know the following parts of the law,

.

Section 14 of the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 states,

Restrictions imposed on interceptions

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.

Furthermore, the Act states in at least two parts, precisely who the GCSB may collect data on;

Part 2
7. Objective of Bureau
  • (1) The objective of the Bureau is to contribute to the national security of New Zealand by providing—

    • (a) foreign intelligence that the Government of New Zealand requires to protect and advance—
      • (i) the security or defence of New Zealand; or
      • (ii) the international relations of the Government of New Zealand; or
      • (iii) New Zealand’s international well-being or economic well-being; and
    • (b) foreign intelligence to meet international obligations and commitments of the Government of New Zealand; and
    • (c) advice, assistance, and protection to departments of State and other instruments of the Executive Government of New Zealand in order to—
      • (i) protect and enhance the security of their communications, information systems, and computer systems; or
      • (ii) protect their environments from electronic or other forms of technical surveillance by foreign organisations or foreign persons.

    (2) For the purposes of subsection (1)(a)(iii), the interests of New Zealand’s international well-being or economic well-being are relevant only to the extent that they are affected by the actions or intentions of foreign organisations or foreign persons.

Part 3
13. Purpose of Part
  • The purpose of this Part is,—

    • (a) subject to the restrictions imposed by this Part, to enable the Bureau to obtain foreign intelligence; and
    • (b) to authorise the interception of communications (whether under section 16 or under an interception warrant or a computer access authorisation) only if the purpose of the interception is to obtain foreign intelligence.

.

The law surrounding the GCSB is most certainly not “opaque”. It fairly strait forward to anyone with a Primary School grasp of the Queen’s English.

What part of  “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 do journos not understand?!

FFS!! It’s there in black and white!

The only people who’ve been seriously promoting the meme that the Act is somehow “vague” or “unclear” are the Prime Minister – not exactly noted for being 100% honest with the public – and his appointed minion, GCSB Director, Ian Fletcher.

I’ll point out here and now, this isn’t directed at O’Brien. She simply happens to be the most recent case of sloppy journos who have obviously not bothered to look up the relevant act – because otherwise they would be fully aware that the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 is actually fairly damned clear and unequivocal. I’ll print the relevant section again – In. Big. Red. Letters.

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 most dangerous aspect of this sloppy journalism is that the public will take people like O’Brien, or at TVNZ, or the Dominion Post, or NZ Herald, or any number of radio stations at face value. The public will not be bothered to look up the relevant legislation.

And why should they? Aren’t we entitled to have a degree of faith in the media to know what the heck they’re talking about?

Evidently not.

Each time I catch some lazy journo pushing the government-orchestrated meme that the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 is “unclear” or “vague” – I’ll be on their sad arses pointing out their laziness and sloppy journalism.

This is serious shit, people. National intends to pass laws allowing even more invasion of our privacy; more spying; and increased State power.

If it was Labour doing this, the MSM would be baying for blood and screaming “nanny state!”. But when it comes to National and it’s right wing agenda, all we get is mis-informed “news” that is not based in any reality I’m familiar with.

Jesus, all I’m asking is that the media get their story straight.

When did that ever become something we have to ask for?

It’s simple. Do your job.

For one last time,

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?!

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 23 May 2013.

 

.

.

= fs =

The GCSB – when plain english simply won’t do.

.

spy vs politician

.

Question: Is the GCSB staffed and managed by people for whom english is a second language?

The reason I ask is that I’ve been hearing over and over again that the Act covering the Government Communications Securitry Bureau (GCSB) is somehow, “vague”.

For example Deputy Prime Minister Bill English said,

It highlights the fact that the legislation for GCSB is probably legally flawed right from the start. The law is likely to need to change.”

This “vagueness” in the law – the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 – is supposedly ‘unclear’ and ‘confusing’, which resulted in the Bureau illegally spying on 88  New Zealander permanent residents and/or citizens (see:  Legality of spy operations called into question).

So how vague is the Act? Specifically Part 3, Section 14,

.

Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 - section 3-14

Acknowledgement:  Parliamentary Counsel Office: Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003

.

Section 14 states,

Restrictions imposed on interceptions

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.

Let’s dissect that paragraph,
Neither the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau …”

That’s fairly clear; we start of  by identifying who is covered by this paragraph,

  •  the Director
  •  employees,
  •  or anyone acting on behalf of the Bureau

“… may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person…”

Again, fairly clear; the people mentioned above cannot “intercept[ing] the communications of a person…”

And the “punch-line”,

“…(not being a foreign organisation or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident”.

So, if you’re a “a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident”, you cannot have your commmunications intercepted by “the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau“.

That’s not only clear, but it’s not even written in ‘legalese’!?

The GCSB believed that they were allowed to spy on behalf of Police (or OFCANZ, to be specific).

But nowhere does the Act allow the GCSB to spy on behalf of the Police. In fact, the Act states in at least two parts, precisely who the GCSB may collect data on;

Part 2
7. Objective of Bureau
  • (1) The objective of the Bureau is to contribute to the national security of New Zealand by providing—

    • (a) foreign intelligence that the Government of New Zealand requires to protect and advance—
      • (i) the security or defence of New Zealand; or
      • (ii) the international relations of the Government of New Zealand; or
      • (iii) New Zealand’s international well-being or economic well-being; and
    • (b) foreign intelligence to meet international obligations and commitments of the Government of New Zealand; and
    • (c) advice, assistance, and protection to departments of State and other instruments of the Executive Government of New Zealand in order to—
      • (i) protect and enhance the security of their communications, information systems, and computer systems; or
      • (ii) protect their environments from electronic or other forms of technical surveillance by foreign organisations or foreign persons.

    (2) For the purposes of subsection (1)(a)(iii), the interests of New Zealand’s international well-being or economic well-being are relevant only to the extent that they are affected by the actions or intentions of foreign organisations or foreign persons.

Part 3
13. Purpose of Part
  • The purpose of this Part is,—

    • (a) subject to the restrictions imposed by this Part, to enable the Bureau to obtain foreign intelligence; and
    • (b) to authorise the interception of communications (whether under section 16 or under an interception warrant or a computer access authorisation) only if the purpose of the interception is to obtain foreign intelligence.

Both paragraphs emphasise over and over again two words; foreign and international.
Coupled with Paragraph 14, it seems to this blogger (and I have zero legal training, except watching old ‘Perry Mason‘ tv programmes in my youth) that the law is fairly clear in,
  1. Meaning
  2. Intent
  3. Wording

Whatever possessed the GCSB to believe that they were allowed to spy on behalf of  OFCANZ?

For the GCSB to claim that they “believed they were allowed to spy on behalf of others such as the Police or SIS” is akin to saying they were allowed to spy on NZ citizens only on every other day, except Sunday. Ridiculous.

This is not about a “vague” or “unworkable” law.

This is about a government department that had minimal oversight and attempted to get away with flouting the law.

What  “oversight’ there was consisted of  an aging, retired judge who works part-time – and an even more apparently  feeble-minded Prime Minister who has severe memory-retention problems and seems to take little interest in what the GCSB is up to.

The GCSB has been caught out in a “matesy” relationship with OFCANZ – due in part to the ‘glamourous’ work being undertaken at the behest of the United States’ FBI, regarding Kim Dotcom. The GCSB simply didn’t want to be left out of the “action”.

This was a bunch of “boys” with high tech gear; truckloads of money; and no one watching what they were getting up to.

No wonder they broke the law in their spying.

They thought they could get away with it.

Why?

Why not. Because, after all,  who watches the Watchmen?

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 22 May 2013.

.

.

= fs =

National’s disdain for the law

.
Prime Minister John Key on the phone to GCSB boss - and mate - Ian Fletcher

Prime Minister John Key on the phone to GCSB boss – and mate – Ian Fletcher

.

 ’Fixing’ the Law when it’s ‘broken’…

As some folk are aware, I have a somewhat “colourful” past. As a young bloke I got carried away with stupid activities; bad driving habits (I saw the speed limit as a ‘recommendation’); heavy boozing; partying; and got on the wrong side of the law. One singular act of stupidity caught up with me over three decades later.

It was only in my mid-twenties and onwards that I started to grow up and – with the help of a few folk – managed to turn my wayward craziness into more productive activities. (Curiously, at the same time I found my political views  moving from centre-right to centre-left… Correlation? Dunno.)

Something I eventually  learned was that the law was there for a reason and the Universe did not revolve around my selfish desires. The law would not change for me – I had to make that change within myself.

Imagine my surprise then, that I have now discovered that the law can be changed for those committing illegal acts,

.

Law change will mean GCSB can spy on Kiwis

Acknowledgement: Newstalk ZB:  Law change will mean GCSB can spy on Kiwis

.

So let’s see if I have this right…

  • The GCSB acted illegally by spying on 88 New Zealanders/permanent residents,
  • John Key accepts that they acted outside the law
  • Instead of holding the Bureau accountable, the law will be changed to accomodate their illegality – in effect rewarding them, as Green co-leader, Russell Norman said?

My oh my… So that’s how the system works for those in power? They don’t have to be held accountable – the law can be  amended to sweep their wrong-doing under the carpet!?

I don’t know what the  1,058,638 voters who voted for National think of this. Especially when one of National’s main policy platforms during the 2011 election was the usual “tough on crime”  rhetoric,

.

National Party staying strong on crime

.

Not so “strong on crime” after all, I guess. Not when it involves a government agency for which  Dear Leader Key himself holds direct responsibility.

I know that New Zealanders have a fetishistic respect for Authority, but isn’t this going several steps too far?

Do we really want the entire GCSB apparatus (paid from our taxes) spying on us?

Do we really want to be taking a step closer to Big Brother watching our every move?

And if National Party supporters are comfortable reading this – before you shrug your shoulders dismissively, just consider for a moment  that the same increased powers of State surveillance will  also be wielded by the next Labour-led government.  How does that grab ya?

Break the law?

No problemo.

We’ll just change it.

John Key has stated,

I think GCSB should be able to provide agencies support for NZSIS, under the right conditions and with the right oversight.

Acknowledgement: IBID

Really?!?! Like… “the right oversight” that the  Prime Minister had over the GCSB since 2008? Is that the kind of  “right oversight” that he’s referring to?

Now why is it, I wonder, that his reassurances that the  “GCSB should be able to provide agencies support for NZSIS, under the right conditions and with the right oversight” – does not fill me with much confidence?

In fact, why is it that nothing Key sez or does gives me any confidence whatsoever?

Because I’ll share this with the reader for free; if Key couldn’t provide the  ” right oversight ” for the GCSB at it is now – why should we trust it with further enhancing their powers?!?!

The reality appears that National’s plan to legitamise the Bureau’s spying on New Zealanders shows a disdain for the law that, up till now, has only been evident in despotic regimes such as Zimbabwe. This is a dangerous road for any goverment to take.

When an arm of the State breaks the law, the correct response is not to pass laws which legitamises that law-breaking.

It frightens the hell out of me that, in the year 2013AD, this is where New Zealand has arrived. And isn’t it scary when bloggers have to point this out to all and sundry?!

All the previous assurances in the last forty years, from successive governments, that the power of the State will be firmly controlled and monitored – has ultimately proved to be futile. And now the minister for revenue and hairstyling, Peter Dunne, wants to extend information sharing between the IRD and other government agencies, promising us,

Client privacy and confidentiality is paramount in this process.

Acknowledgement: Law Society – IRD and MSD information sharing to be expanded

By the way. Whoever writes these Press Releases should changed the wording,

“Protecting people’s rights to privacy and confidentiality are critical,” Ms Collins says.”

Acknowledgement: The Beehive – Tax info-sharing may help fight crime

So if John Key gets his way, and the GCSB is allowed to spy on New Zealand citizens and permanent residents, what’s next? (Because in a few year’s time, the government will want more power for XYZ reasons. Governments are never content with the powers they are given.)

What will follow next? A  “special police force” attached to a more powerful SIS/GCSB entity?

Laws to detain dissidents who might oppose corporate investors or protest at visiting ‘dignitaries’ from other countries where human rights is an arcane, alien concept?

Or even laws which threaten to impose hefty fines and/or jail terms for those who dare protest corporate power?

Like this…

 

*

.

Addendum

.

NZ First offers support for spy law changes

Acknowledgement:  Radio NZ – NZ First offers support for spy law changes (16 April 2013)

.

Trust NZ First to prop up National’s anti-democratic laws. Wouldn’t it be  exquisite irony if the GCSB and SIS have both spied on Winston Peters and recorded some of his shenanigans…

Continued at: National’s disdain for democracy and dissent

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 17 April 2013.

.

*

Previous related blogposts

The GCSB – when plain english simply won’t do.

The Fletcher Affair – a warning for Labour

References

Beehive:  Tax info-sharing may help fight crime (9 April 2013)

Radio NZ: Govt proposes IRD share info with police (9 April 2013)

Newstalk ZB:  Law change will mean GCSB can spy on Kiwis (10 April 2013)

NZ Herald: GCSB needs more oversight – Key (10 April 2013)

NZ Herald:  John Armstrong: GCSB trickery and deception revealed (11 April 2013)

NZ Herald:  PM out to turn tables on rivals over GCSB (13 April 2013)

Other Blogs

The Daily Blog: The Conspirators

The Daily Blog: The Guts and the Authority: Curbing the Powers of the GCSB

The Daily Blog: Worse Than We Thought: Rebecca Kitteridge and the New “Community” of Spooks

.

.

= fs =

A letter to the Dominion Post on the GCSB…

 
.
from:     Frank Macskasy <fmacskasy@gmail.com>
to:     Dominion Post <letters@dompost.co.nz>
date:     Wed, May 22, 2013 at 12:36 PM
subject:     Letters to the editor
.
The Editor
DOMINION POST
 
.

The Prime Minister and his appointee, Ian Fletcher, keep insisting that the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 is “unclear” and “vague”.

How much clearer does a law have to be when section 14 of the Act states,

“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.”

And Part 3, section 13, states clearly,

“The purpose of this Part is,—            (a) subject to the restrictions imposed by this Part, to enable the Bureau to obtain foreign intelligence; and             (b) to authorise the interception of communications (whether under section 16 or under an interception warrant or a computer access authorisation) only if the purpose of the interception is to obtain foreign intelligence.”

It doesn’t get any clearer that that.

So, really, what is Key up to?

Why extend the powers of the GCSB when the law is already fairly clear on the issue?
And if Paul Neazor’s report supposedly clears the government – why will Key not release it publicly? What is he hiding?

.
-Frank Macskasy

(address and phone number supplied)

.

.

= fs =