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Posts Tagged ‘privacy’

I spy with my multitude of Eyes

13 September 2018 Leave a comment

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Several pieces of legislation enacted under the previous government saw a vast increase in State surveillance. The GCSB  – first created in 1977 by former National PM, Robert Muldoon, – was initially set up to provide overseas surveillance during the Cold War era.

By May 2013, the powers of the GCSB were extended to permit domestic surveillance of New Zealanders by former National PM, John Key.

A variety of  state “security” and extensions of surveillance powers have been enacted over the past sixteen years;

Labour:

Terrorism Suppression Act 2002

National:

Search and Surveillance Act 2012

Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013

Government Communications Security Bureau Amendment Act 2013

Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill (aka Customs and Excise Amendment Act 2014)

Not to be outdone, the private sector also dabbles with surveillance. On most occassions, that surveillance is subtle.

In other instances, it is overt and in-your-face.

An example of this is the recently (and currently on-going) re-developement at Kilbirnie  Pak N Save supermarket in Wellington’s Eastern suburb.  The store’s internal up-grade has included the sprouting of dozens of security cameras. In some areas, the high-security of CCTV cameras, descending from the ceiling on poles – eerily like some mutant upside-down mushroom – would be more appropriate for a top secret military installation.

Upon entering the store, the first camera is apparent;

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Foyer at Kilbirnie Pak N Save

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Walking through the turn-styles, into the first part of the super-market – more cameras;

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The Fruit & Vege section;

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Meats…

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Chilled goods, heading toward the Deli and Bakery;

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The Bakery section…

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Down the side of the building (greeting cards, breads, et al)…

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And a close-up of the all-seeing eyes…

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Until  we reach the check-out – and the ubiquitous cameras become a parody of surveillance as their numbers become apparent;

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Frank Macskasy Frankly Speaking blog - The Daily Blog fmacskasy.wordpress.com Kilbirnie Pak N Save - security cameras - cctv - surveillance - nz

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In case the reader has difficulty making out the individual cameras, they are highlighted here;

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Even banks don’t have as many cameras.

In an age of tracking by online corporations like Google and Facebook; by the apps in our smartphones; by CCTVs in buildings, streets, offices, etc – we have reached a surveillance state far surpassing anything envisioned by George Orwell.

Some of us will recall the days of the friendly corner grocer;

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Acknowledgement: Wairarapa Times-Age

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Once upon a time, retailers functioned with not a camera in sight;

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Acknowledgement: NZ Herald

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Those days now seem long gone.

Perhaps this is the price of “progress”?

Ironically, the advent of the Surveillance State and Surveilled Society has been long foreseen by academics, writers, activists, etc. As surveillance increased – both State and commercial – the public became more and more inured to every-present prying eyes.

The constant warnings of encroachments into our privacy; against increasing State power; alerting us to the perils of Big Data held by offshore (and domestic) corporations have become a Cry Wolf! to most of the public. Unless you are a left-wing blogger or investigative journalist who become an irritant to The Established Order, the public perceive no threat to their glacial erosion of our privacy.

Couched in terms of “preserving law and order” and/or “fighting terrorism”, people will think little of our own country as a Surveilled Society. Especially if they perceive no “down side” to their personal liberty. Previous warnings of a Big Brother State have – apparently – not become reality.

Like the frog-in-the-pan-of-heating-water fable, fears gradually gave way to blasé acceptance. We have arrived to a society where the presence of literally dozens of  overhead surveillance cameras in a supermarket now barely raises an eyebrow.

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References

Wikipedia: GCSB – History

Parliament: Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill

Wairarapa Times-Age: First class First St grocer

NZ Herald: (story removed from website)

NZ Law Society: Privacy Commissioner issues guidance on personal information and transparency reporting

Fairfax media: Police apologise to Nicky Hager over Dirty Politics raid as part of settlement

Previous related blogposts

Surveillance laws, Strikebreaking, & Subversive groups

2013 – The Year We Became a Policed Surveillance State

The Growth of State Power; mass surveillance; and it’s supporters

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 9 September 2018.

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Big Bro’ is Watching You!

13 November 2015 6 comments

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This piece by Dita DeBoni on TVNZ’s website is worth re-posting in it’s entirety – just in case it ‘mysteriously vanishes’ into the ether. Not that I’m implying the New Zealand is now more-or-less a quasi-Police State…

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Dita DeBoni Privacy right is not a right when not 'right' - nicky hagerWhether it be information about our household digital television account, or my child’s ear infection medication, or a text message, say, sent by a Prime Minister to a highly prominent sportsman or blogger, “privacy” is often the reason trotted out for stonewalling.

Sometimes it’s legitimate. Goodness knows what might happen if a complete stranger paid my household bills for me, or felt inclined to impersonate me at the chemist.

And do we really need to know that the Prime Minister and prominent All Blacks are in cahoots over the new flag design?

Some might say yes, but I reckon I could have figured that out by the sheer number of photographs we’re subjected to day after day featuring them gazing adoringly into each other’s eyes.

It seems the main reason a journalist – or even a citizen – is denied ‘official’ information much of the time is either that releasing it is going to unleash a torrent of (metaphorical) excrement, or getting the information you’re after would be a pain in the posterior for the person being asked for it.
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The exception to this is if the police are asking.

It now seems as though certain institutions are more than happy to hand over incredibly personal financial and other information if the plod request it, even if they’ve skipped the part where they’re supposed to get the proper legal documentation to do so.

Some institutions actually wait for a formal, legitimate request before complying with police fishing expeditions.

Others, notably Westpac Bank, do not.

We know this because it emerged this week that Westpac handed over 10 months of data from three of author Nicky Hager’s accounts when police were investigating the hacking of Cameron Slater’s blog and social media accounts at the end of 2014, willingly complying with detectives who simply explained it was part of their investigation into ‘criminal offending’.

There is nothing whatsoever to suggest the criminal offending they were investigating was anything to do with Nicky Hager.

Hager began the investigation as a ‘suspect’ but became simply a ‘witness’; he is not accused of stealing anything.

He did what good journalists do on a daily basis – was given information on nefarious wrong-doing that he believed the public needed to know. Then he published it.
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He’s been treated extraordinarily for a witness in such a case – had his house raided for ten hours, had personal files uplifted, been wire-tapped, had his records requested from as many as 20 different companies and sources, and been vilified by the government.

But whether you like Nicky Hager or not, whether you agree with what he set out to do or not, there is something rotten about the way the police acted in the case – and something profoundly out of order about the way Westpac Bank rolled over and gave away Hager’s bank records and other personal information on the strength of an unsupported request by police, without even telling their client they were doing so – which is also something they are required to do.

It now emerges Nicky Hager has complained to the Privacy Commissioner about what’s happened and also wants a ‘full and frank’ disclosure from Westpac.

It will be more than anyone else has had. Westpac say they won’t comment on what they do with customer information because it’s an ‘internal policy’.

Again, you may think Nicky Hager deserved the treatment he’s had. You may not agree with him in general.

But remember that whatever treatment’s been handed out to him can be handed out to anyone with the ‘wrong’ connections, the ‘wrong’ information, and the ‘wrong’ intentions.

Privacy increasingly seems to be only your right if you are on the ‘right’ side.

 

In case anyone has missed the point, Dita DeBoni’s column is a direct warning to the citizens of this country.

When the security apparatus of the State – in this case the New Zealand Police – can access private and confidential details without a search warrant, then we have reached a truly frightening stage in our nation’s developing history.

The only place where police have had such unimpeded access to the private information of citizens has been – up until now – the province of military junta-controlled regimes; Soviet-style “people’s republics”; and various banana republic dictatorships. Think of Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Pinochet, Papa “Doc” Duvalier – it’s a very long list. (And I haven’t even gone through the entire 20th century!)

Though New Zealand is not *yet* a One Party state – which is only one national “crisis away, before a “state of emergency” is declared – we have taken a further step toward the nightmarish society envisioned by C.K. Stead in “Smith’s Dream/Sleeping Dogs“. (That nice man, Prime Minister Volkner, had such a horrid time caused by those nasty terrorists. Why couldn’t they just all get a proper job?)

It might well be that the release of Nicky Hager’s private information to the police was an inadvertent slip-up by an ill-informed Westpac employee.  Or it could be that there is now a nascent culture developing in New Zealand of fawning, unquestioning obeisance to Authority.

In a space of thirtythree years, we have gone from massive street protests and struggle against an increasingly authoritarian National government led by Robert Mudoon – to meekly accepting increasing State surveillance and seizure powers.

And in just seven years, we have gone from this;

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Showers latest target of Labour's nanny state

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– to this;

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various spy bills

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Yes, in just under a decade, National has taken New Zealand from complaining about reduced shower flows and ecologically-sound lightbulbs (!!) being “Nanny Statish” – to mass surveillance of the population; increased powers for spy agencies and police; forcing telco’s to keep client information for the State; and warrantless search and seizures.

In my youth, I visited my parents’ homeland whilst it was still under communist rule, and within the ‘sphere of influence’ of the Kremlin.

I can say, with a fair degree of confidence tinged with sadness, that New Zealand has moved closer to being a South Pacific replica of a former Soviet ‘satellite’ state. Only the Gulags are yet to be built. (Our Australian cuzzies have them already at Christmas Island and elsewhere.)

I can think of no other way to see this country. We have spy agencies monitoring New Zealanders; spying on our Pacific neighbours and trading partners; and harassing journalists who are critical of this government’s actions. Phil Goff’s political career was almost destroyed by National’s abuse of the powers of the SIS.

What else do you call a country where police can gain access to a citizen’s private information – without arresting him – and with no warrant? The term, I believe, is Police State.

If National Party supporters are “relaxed” about this, then I have this piece of advice for them; remember that governments change. Sooner or later, Labour will be in office.

And the Labour Prime Minister, with perhaps a few scores to settle, will have all the powers of search, surveillance, warrantless seizures, that John Key has gradually amassed since 2008.

Laws like these;

Search and Surveillance Act 2012

Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013

Government Communications Security Bureau Amendment Act 2013

Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill (aka Customs and Excise Amendment Act 2014)

There may even be a new Minister for the GCSB and SIS. Perhaps Phil Goff. Or David Cunliffe.

Then the shoe will be on the other foot (the Left one). At that point, National and it’s supporters may start to regret the encroachment of State power into our lives.

I believe light bulbs and shower nozzles will be the least of their worries.

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References

TVNZ: Dita DeBoni – Privacy right is not a right when not ‘right’

National Party: Showers latest target of Labour’s nanny state

NBR: Ferguson confirms ‘mass surveillance’, Key reiterates GCSB acting lawfully

NZ Herald: Warning as second part of spy bill passes

NBR: ‘Undemocratic’ Search and Surveillance Bill made law

Fairfax media: Spy bill passes into law amid wide criticism

Newstalk ZB: PM won’t confirm Pacific spying

Fairfax: Private data deserves greater respect than Westpac showed Nicky Hager

Techdirt: New Zealand Spy Agency Deleted Evidence About Its Illegal Spying On Kim Dotcom

Yahoo News: English didn’t know GCSB spied illegally

NZ Herald: GCSB report: 88 cases of possible illegal spying uncovered

Other Bloggers

Kiwipolitico: Confronting executive branch excess

Kiwipolitico: Some questions about the Stephenson case

No Right Turn: An unwarranted demand for information

No Right Turn: The banality of intrusion

The Daily Blog: Police plotted to arrest and spy on Nicky Hager – the most interesting parts of 1 year on from Dirty Politics

The Daily Blog: What mainstream haven’t mentioned about Westpac corporate narking on Nicky Hager

The Daily Blog: News release on behalf of Nicky Hager concerning privacy breach by Westpac

The Daily Blog: Why what the Police are doing to Nicky Hager is so extraordinary

The Standard: Technology and the law – and going after Hager

The Standard: Angry at Westpac

The Standard: Dirty Politics was in the public interest

The Standard: “A creeping authoritarianism from the current government”

Previous related blogposts

Parliamentary spies and games – some bad numbers

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

It is 1984. It is ALWAYS 1984

National’s disdain for democracy and dissent

Those who love Big Brother

Welcome to new glorious People’s Republic of New Zealand

From the Horses mouth

Today’s irony was brought to you courtesy of former ACT MP and Govt Minister, Rodney Hide

Weekend Revelations #2 – Michelle Boag has a whinge

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This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 9 November 2015.

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Dom Post journos get it wrong – again!

13 September 2014 4 comments

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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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Nothing to hide, eh?

13 September 2014 Leave a comment

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spying

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From today’s Fairfax report on the visit of world-renowned investigative journalist, Glenn Greenwald, and Key’s abuse thrown at the man, there were 712 comments posted, before Fairfax closed posting.

A few of the comments were by John Key’s fanboys, like this muppet;

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Mark000007

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Who noticed something laughable about Mark000007‘s post?

Check out his first two sentences,

“I really wouldn’t care if the government is ‘spying’ on me, I’ve got nothing to hide”

Nothing to hide, eh?

 

I wonder if that’s why he uses a pseudonym?

 

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References

Fairfax media:  Key dismisses GCSB spying claims from Greenwald

Previous related blogposts

The Growth of State Power; mass surveillance; and it’s supporters


 

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Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

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Categories: The Body Politic Tags: , ,

Online Voting – no longer a viable option post-2013

15 June 2014 6 comments

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There has been public debate recently on the prospect of employing online voting for local body and general elections. The suggestion is made to counter falling voting numbers, as the 2011 general election recorded the lowest voter turn-out (74.21%) since 1887.

But a recent ‘tweet’ by civil liberties advocate; professional techer; and co-founder of the blog, Tech Liberty, made this pertinent point about the wisdom of online voting;

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Thomas Beagle - GCSB - online voting - privacy - Twitter - tweet

 

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Thomas Beagle has raised an important point.

The safety and inviolability of privacy in our voting system is integral to democracy. If there were to be even a hint or whiff that this privacy had been violated – the damage it would cause our fragile democratic system might not be repairable for generations.

We have already had assault after assault on our freedoms and privacy – especially since 2008. A few examples in a Roll of Dishonour include;

For a party that advocates getting the State our of lives, National has been working over-time to snoop, pry, mis-use private information; leak information for political advantage; and to increase the surveillance powers of government agencies.

As Keith Holyoake, a former National Prime Minister said in 1959;

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National we will give you honest government

‘The National Party believes in a property-owning democracy. … We believe in the maximum degree of personal freedom and the maximum degree of individual choice for our people. We believe in the least interference necessary with individual rights, and the least possible degree of state interference.’

One suspects that the spirit of Holyoake would be in utter despair at what his party has become since he uttered those words.

Since National has been in office, we have had legislation enacted that has vastly increased State surveillance powers in a way few thought possible in our once fiercely privacy-protective society;

Search and Surveillance Act 2012

On 1 October 2012, a new law came into effect,

“The Search and Surveillance Act, which was passed through Parliament in March, extends production and examination orders to the police and legalises some forms of surveillance.

It will let more government agencies carry out surveillance operations, allows judges to determine whether journalists can protect their sources, and changes the right to silence.”

Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill

On 21 August 2013,

“… John Key introduced the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill, which would extend the powers of the GCSB to enable it to collect information from all New Zealanders for the use of other government departments including the New Zealand Police, Defence Force and the Security Intelligence Service.Under the bill, the GCSB will have three main functions. Firstly, it will continue to collect foreign intelligence but it will not be allowed to spy on New Zealanders. Secondly, it will give the GCSB a legal mandate to assist the police, Defence Force and the Security Intelligence Service. Thirdly, it will extend the GCSB’s cyber-security functions to encompass protecting private-sector cyber systems.

Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013

“The technical Telecommunications Interception Capability and Security Bill will compel telecommunication firms to assist intelligence agencies in intercepting and decrypting phone calls, texts and emails. ..

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The bill has two parts – interception and network security. It replaces other legislation and is a partner to the Government Communications Security Bureau bill, passed earlier this year.

It compels telecommunications firms and online service providers to give “surveillance agencies” (the police, Security and Intelligence Service (SIS) and the GCSB) access to their clients’ communications.”

The rise of State power and increasing surveillance is simply unprecedented in our history.

We now have at least four state agencies that can pry into our lives; the Customs, Police, SIS, and GCSB.  Add WINZ, the IRD, Immigration, et al to the list, and it becomes apparent that this country has become a Westernised, consumer-driven, version of the former East Germany.

We even have our own Stasi-like para-military that raids villages out in the back-blocks, away from prying eyes of the public and media;

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Armed par-military police, during the 2007 Urewera raid.

Armed par-military police, during the 2007 Urewera raid.

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In five years we have become a quasi-police state.

In April 2013, the Kitteridge Report revealed that up to eightyeight New Zealanders had been illegally spied on by the GCSB.

A month later, in May 2013, not only was no one held to account and not  prosecuted;

“…it could not be established that any GCSB staff had the necessary criminal intent to illegally intercept private communications in this case, and GCSB staff cannot be criminally liable”.

– but a subsequent whitewash determined;

“The Inspector-General formed a view that there have been no breaches, although the law is unclear and the Inspector-General recommends amending it,” GCSB Director Ian Fletcher said in a statement.

Fletcher, Key, and other apologist for the GCSB’s law-breaking werelying. The law was not “unclear”. In fact, it was crystal clear that the Bureau could not spy on NZ citizens and permanent residents;

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 Dominion Post’s Tracy Watkins got it right  when she wrote;

“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.”

Amidst the increased surveillance by the various State agencies; the illegal mis-use of information; ministerial leaks to sociopathic bloggers like Cameron Slater; and previous illegal spying by the GCSB – the prospect of on-line voting is no longer feasible.

It is simply not safe to entrust the sanctity of the privacy of voting to an internet that is now more like an open postcard to the Police, SIS, GCSB, and god-knows-who-else.

We would have absolutely no way of knowing who was accessing our voting.

And if a State agency was caught illegally accessing New Zealanders’ voting records?

The Prime Minister would simply dismiss any such illegality with this kind of sophistry;

“In addition, the Act governing the [online voting process] 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.”

So why should we trust a man who has condoned previous acts of illegal state spying on individuals?

He’s done it before.

 

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References

Election Results: Party Votes and Turnout by Electorate

NZ History: Elizabeth Yates

Blog: Tech Liberty

Twitter: Thomas Beagle

Fairfax media: Paula Bennett accused of Muldoon-style bullying

TV3: Bennett accused of breaching privacy again

NZ Herald: GCSB report: 88 cases of possible illegal spying uncovered

Radio NZ: Key confessions over Whale Oil

Whaleoil: Know your Wharfies – Cecil Walker

Metro: Her Majesty

NZ Herald: Probe into email leak welcome, says Collins

Te Ara – Encyclopedia of NZ: National Party – Page 4 – Party principles

Legislation: Search and Surveillance Act 2012

NZ Herald: New police search and surveillance law in force

Parliament: Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill

Wikipedia: Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill

Legislation: Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Act 2013

Fairfax media: Spying bill passes into law

TVNZ News: Spy agency could have illegally spied on dozens of Kiwis

Zdnet: NZ spy agency staff cleared in illegal spying probe

TVNZ News: GCSB cleared of illegal spying, though law ‘unclear’

Legislation: Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 – Para 14

Dominion Post:  Spy bungles start to entangle PM

Additional

NZ Herald: GCSB spying illegal, but no charges laid

Other blogs

The Standard: Tape of ACC-Pullar meeting raises more questions

The Jackal: Judith Collins defamation fail

Tech Liberty: Submission – Telecommunications (Interception Capability & Security) Bill


 

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Above image acknowledgment: Francis Owen/Lurch Left Memes

This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 10 June 2014.

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The Growth of State Power; mass surveillance; and it’s supporters…

17 January 2014 5 comments

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spying

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Next time there’s a debate on state surveillance on an internet blog or other forum, check out who is supporting more power for governments to spy on us. Have a look at those who parrot the cliche, “nothing to hide, nothing to fear”.

They generally use pseudonyms.

 

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Categories: The Body Politic Tags: , ,

Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams

5 August 2013 4 comments

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– Politics on Nine To Noon –

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– Monday 5 August 2013 –

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– Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams –

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Today on Politics on Nine To Noon,

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Radio NZ logo - Politics on nine to noon

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Click to Listen: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams (27′ 40″ )

  • Discuss the current Fonterra food safety scare;
  • the continuing scandal surrounding the GCSB emails;
  • Labour’s affordable housing policy,
  • and recent positive poll results.

Acknowledgement: Radio NZ

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