GCSB views

July 26th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Press editorial:

Contrary to the assertions of opposition parties, the changes Prime Minister John Key has made to the Government Communications Security Bureau bill are not merely cosmetic.

Among other things, the changes will require the to make an annual report on the number of warrants and access authorisations it gets and pro-actively tell the inspector-general of intelligence, whose post has itself been beefed up, whenever it has acquired a warrant to spy on a New Zealand citizen or resident.

In addition, while rejecting the opposition call for an inquiry now into the GCSB, the bill will require a review of its operations, and those of the Security Intelligence Service, the domestic spy agency, a couple of years from now and thereafter every five to seven years.

The GCSB will also have to make an annual report on the number of times it has been called on to help the police, the SIS and other agencies use its specialised surveillance equipment.

If any expansion is required of the agencies that can call on the assistance of the GCSB, new legislation will be needed rather than, as had been proposed, merely executive action. The Prime Minister has also promised to make it clear that the collection of metadata – information about the time and location of a call rather than its content – will be treated as communication and require a search warrant.

All these changes make substantial modifications to the bill as it was first presented to Parliament. While they have not been enough to persuade opposition parties to support the bill, they are sufficient to satisfy Peter Dunne, formerly a strong critic of the bill, which means it will pass.

I agree that the changes are not inconsequential. I note that Labour seem unable to articulate what actual changes to the bill would make it acceptable to them. I think they just hope this will be finally be the silver bullet that gets them out of the poll doldrums. Bit sadly for them, people are more interested in policies on jobs, hospitals and schools than this.

Pete George points out the recent protest action against the bill was organised by Mana’s Martyn Bradbury and Greens’ Max Coyle. I think it is safe to conclude both fall into the camp of would never ever support something done by this Government. The meeting they organised was interesting though:

Labour MP David Cunliffe sat in the front row last night. His party leader, David Shearer, watched unnoticed from the rear of the hall with Labour’s finance spokesman, David Parker.

However the Herald disagrees with and wants more changes. However they also say the changes are substantial:

The Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill will be an improved piece of legislation when it is amended by Parliament. The changes go much further than the “cosmetic” tag attached by the Greens. Two stand out. The first dictates that the country’s foreign intelligence agency will be the subject of an independent review in 2015 and an automatic review every five to seven years after that. A five-year review echoes the situation in Australia. It also goes quite some way towards satisfying the call by Labour and the Greens for an independent inquiry into the country’s security services, even if they wanted this to precede the passage of the legislation.

The second important alteration states that if a government wants to expand the domestic agencies which the GCSB will be able to help beyond the police, the Security Intelligence Service and the Defence Force, it will have to get the support of Parliament for another amendment bill, rather than Cabinet simply ticking it off via regulation. That negates the possibility of the likes of Customs, the Immigration Department or Inland Revenue using the GCSB’s sophisticated cybersecurity equipment without a considered debate on the ramifications. 

I think that last change was very important.

According to the Prime Minister, the bill represents “a balancing act between national security and doing our best to keep New Zealanders safe, and the privacy of New Zealanders”. Considerable reservations voiced earlier this month by the Privacy Commissioner, the Human Rights Commissioner and the Law Society confirmed the first draft fell far short of this objective. The changes in the bill as reported back yesterday and those achieved by Mr Dunne improve that situation somewhat. It is a real shame, however, that they do not go further. The public deserves stronger reassurance.

In another story the Herald notes a further change:

The activities that the GCSB undertake in assisting the police will be subject to review by the Independent Police Complaints Authority under changes to the GCSB bill, which was reported back to Parliament this afternoon by the Intelligence and Security Committee.

It is one of the few changes to the bill in the committee’s report that has not been previously announced.

A further useful addition.

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33 Responses to “GCSB views”

  1. Redbaiter (7,642 comments) says:

    Just wait till Labour regains power.

    Then we will fully understand why this bill is a mistake.

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  2. edd (150 comments) says:

    Imagine this: Your sitting in you home one evening, fully clothed, watching x factor (a nice wholesome show). You have nothing to hide so you have nothing to fear.

    Then out of the corner of your eye you see movement at the window. You look and see someone looking in at you from the darkness.

    Do you a) Think to yourself “I have nothing to hide so I have nothing to fear, look all you like mystery man of the night.”

    or b) get an unpleasant shock, which turns into rage, that compels you to jump up, grab your gun and head outside to shoot the cunt invading your private life.

    This is the emotion Labor will be able to tap into if the GCSB law goes ahead.

    John Key has lost his fucking mind.

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  3. Roflcopter (427 comments) says:

    Easy way to fix things…. totally isolate GCSB to focus on information outside NZ, and go and buy all the same gear the GSCB has, for the Police and SIS.

    Problem solved.

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  4. RRM (9,475 comments) says:

    That negates the possibility of the likes of Customs, the Immigration Department or Inland Revenue using the GCSB’s sophisticated cybersecurity equipment without a considered debate on the ramifications.

    You see, I couldn’t really care less if Immigration, IRD or Customs are able to call up the CGSB for assistance.

    But then, I’m an honest citizen…

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  5. Redbaiter (7,642 comments) says:

    RRM, it is that kind of idiocy that has underpinned the rise of every tyrant in history. But being a prog, what regard would you have for history?

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  6. Fentex (867 comments) says:

    For the last 150 years this country has not needed an internal secret spy agency, what has changed to require one?

    Nothing.

    Spies may, on occasion, be a necessary evil in times of real emergency. NZ has no pressing emergency except phantasms conjured to invent fear.

    This bill does nothing except create a cancer in New Zealand.

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  7. RRM (9,475 comments) says:

    But it’s important we have the means to find the enemies in our midst! The original Red Baiter, Joe McCarthy himself said so!

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  8. F E Smith (3,302 comments) says:

    will be subject to review by the Independent Police Complaints Authority

    Translation:  will be rubber-stamped by the ‘Independent’ Police Compliance Authority.  Any breaches will be dealt with under two differing levels of seriousness: firstly, the ‘tsk tsk’ level for minor breaches, and, secondly, the ‘wet bus ticket’ level for slightly less minor breaches…

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  9. slightlyrighty (2,496 comments) says:

    Anyone who thinks that the NZ government has not had an overseas intelligence gathering agency before now is incredibly naive to say the least.

    Anyone who thinks that the incredible growth in communication technology does not require specialised communications security is unaware of the implications of not doing so.

    Anyone who thinks what the current government is now doing is over the top or not necessary either has not read the Kitteridge report, or has and doesn’t understand it, or had and chooses not to understand it, as to understand it does not fit with their political goals.

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  10. Mark (1,366 comments) says:

    @DPF I agree that the changes are not inconsequential. I note that Labour seem unable to articulate what actual changes to the bill would make it acceptable to them. I think they just hope this will be finally be the silver bullet that gets them out of the poll doldrums. Bit sadly for them, people are more interested in policies on jobs, hospitals and schools than this.

    DPF this has the potential to be a festering sore for the Key government. Sure people are more interested in Jobs and Education but when you have a 1 seat majority seemingly small issues such as this often become more important than they should be. It appears there is a healthy level of distrust of Key over the whole GCSB issue, in part of his own making given the brain fades and bullshit spouted about the Fletcher appointment. It is certainly no silver bullet for Labour and the greens but it is another termite in the foundation

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  11. labrator (1,750 comments) says:

    Labour seem to be pinning their hopes of election on Kim Dotcom. I wonder if he could be the next Labour leader?

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  12. insider (1,001 comments) says:

    @ fentex

    that’s the kind of ignorant hysteria that has sadly been too common around this issue. If you really think that, I have three letters for you to reflect on – SIS.

    and for those who think the gcsb and sis aren’t needed, just remember that only a few years ago a bunch of self proclaimed pece activists were plotting insurrection.

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  13. Nookin (3,037 comments) says:

    Fentex

    Here are the views of someone outside looking in. Can you please outline the facts upon which you conclude that we have no need for “spies” and tell us exactly where Rebecca Kitteridge got it wrong? No bald statements, please. Back up what you say.

    http://www.google.co.nz/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CC0QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.gcsb.govt.nz%2Fnewsroom%2Freports-publications%2FReview%2520of%2520Compliance_%2520final%252022%2520March%25202013.pdf&ei=DubxUe3KM4TYigeMh4CIBQ&usg=AFQjCNHQLNyKU4i3FpWrGkQIrp5baB8YwQ&sig2=WSc_jJ2soFMaZ-MYSyxrFA&bvm=bv.49784469,d.aGc

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  14. Nookin (3,037 comments) says:

    Fentex (again)

    “For the last 150 years this country has not needed an internal secret spy agency, what has changed to require one?”

    Get your facts right, lad.

    http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/intelligence-services/page-1

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  15. rangitoto (195 comments) says:

    If a tyrant got into power it wouldn’t matter at all what previous governments had established as law. The idea that a tyrant would abuse a law is the dumbest argument I have ever heard. Tyrants do whatever they like.

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  16. Fentex (867 comments) says:

    Can you please outline the facts upon which you conclude that we have no need for “spies”

    I wrote “For the last 150 years this country has not needed an internal secret spy agency”. I think simple observation of our history demonstrates that.

    Get your facts right, lad.

    http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/intelligence-services/page-1

    I also wrote “Spies may, on occasion, be a necessary evil in times of real emergency”.

    In concert I meant we have not needed an internal spy agency which this new bill empowers the GCSB to be, while acknowledging that on occasion there are real emergency’s, such as wars and threats of war, that may compel a temporary need for spying. That article mentions many things and different agencies at times doing varieties of police work. It makes no convincing argument of a need for the SIS let alone a body with any greater power.

    exactly where Rebecca Kitteridge got it wrong?

    Pretending the law wasn’t clear is a mistake she made. The law was clear, that one authoritarian minded person believed they ought be able to break the law does not make the law unclear.

    But Kitteridge’s report is not what I protest. I write about the bill before Parliament which empowers the GCSB to snoop on New Zealand citizens with little over-sight and grants it the ability to share information back and forth with foreign powers such that existing and not repealed laws protecting New Zealanders may be circumvented by the shallow pretence that information sharing is not spying.

    I could agree that for efficiencies sake locating surveillance assets in one agency to act on behalf of properly authorized groups to execute warrants for observation and information gathering might have merit.

    That is not the sum of what is happening.

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  17. Yoza (1,551 comments) says:

    How about this for a hypothetical situation: The GCSB wants a law passed to greatly increase its jurisdiction; the government of the day are keen to give the agency whatever its asking for, but they are one vote short of having a majority to allow the change; the GCSB informs the government it may have some possibly embarrassing information, in the form of some candid emails, on an independent MP that could be used to pressure that MP to vote with the government; the MP after prevaricating for a while and attending a few meetings with senior ministers votes with the government and the bill passes; the public has to accept assurances that the agency will always act only in the interests of national security.

    Although the above situation is a piece of fiction, allowing an agency like the GCSB too much power will seriously threaten the democratic charade the establishment is so desperate to promote.

    Organisations like the GCSB, SIS and the Police only need warrants if they are going to arrest someone, I doubt they would try to get a warrant if they were planning to blackmail someone or going on fishing expeditions.

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  18. davidp (3,540 comments) says:

    Yozo>How about this for a hypothetical situation:

    How about this for another hypothetical situation: The Ministry of Health wants a law passed. They have access to medical records and know that one MP had the clap. They blackmail him and you can fill in the rest of the conspiracy.

    Or: The IRD want a law passed. They can see that an MP hasn’t declared the interest on his secret overseas bank account. Conspiracy theories take over and the law is passed by a single vote after Shearer crosses the house.

    Allowing agencies like the Ministry of Health or the IRD too much power threatens our democracy blah blah blah.

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  19. edd (150 comments) says:

    In the future there is going to be a new Labor government. During which time there are going to be labor disputes. Is the Labor government not going to use the GCSB to get dirty information on the companies involved in the disputes?

    I think this is the problem. If National gets the ball rolling, with whatever nice clauses to make it seem amiable, then Labor are within their rights to push that ball in another direction, buy making small amendments, under urgency, in the middle of the night.

    It’s not the kind of power I want the used car salesmen who occupy our house of parliament to have.

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  20. davidp (3,540 comments) says:

    Fentex>The law was clear, that one authoritarian minded person believed they ought be able to break the law does not make the law unclear.

    So can we extradite her from New York and charge her with multiple violations of human rights? Maybe we could trade her for Dotcom?

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  21. edd (150 comments) says:

    @ davidp

    How would you feel if an unfriendly government was tracking your movements, watching your emails etc etc… because you spoke out against one of their self serving policies…. Or do you believe all politicians are models of moral integrity…..with nothing but the good of the nation on their minds?

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  22. Reid (15,970 comments) says:

    How about this for a hypothetical situation: The lefties want a law passed to get NZ out of UKUSA because they want to move NZ into the Non-aligned Nations UN grouping. Key unwisely puts the GCSB into the public eye following a stupid debacle whereby GCSB by mistake didn’t use another UKUSA country to surveil Dotcom which is what usually happens in these situations. A bureaucratic SNAFU but nothing more, get over it. But Key then gives the nation an opportunity to discuss things which shouldn’t be discussed because the public are idiots, and furthermore he sponsors the bill so the discussion cannot die but becomes an ongoing issue for months and months.

    Sadly and coincidentally an overseas traitor puts the wider surveillance issue onto the global media radar and the lefties, headed by an ex-UN sychophant and an ex-commie gleefully take advantage to promote their hidden agenda, which of course they hardly ever mention.

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  23. edd (150 comments) says:

    @ Reid

    The NZ government getting a foreign government to spy on kiwis? You assume that’s the correct thing to do? How does that make it fine and dandy then for the NZ government to cut out the middle man and spy on us directly?

    Surely the process of going and asking the U.S. to do some spying on our citizens, and having to explain why they should bother, is better than the PM just telling his old high school buddy across the hall to take a closer look at someone he doesn’t like?

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  24. edd (150 comments) says:

    @ RRM

    “But then, I’m an honest citizen…”

    I’m an honest citizen, but that doesn’t mean the Guy in the Beehive is! ‘We the people’ don’t all make the smartest choices when we vote now do we. I’m sure you’ll be quick to point out just how stupid some voters are. That’s why we can’t allow the PM to have special powers to spy on us.

    Key can change laws through the due process, but he can’t break a law – then change the law later so that he wasn’t doing anything illegal. That is dishonest and Key should be afraid of the consequences of this bill.

    If dot com was so bad then Key should have called the U.S. to do the spy work, as Reid suggested, then we would have been none the wiser to Keys tendency for dishonesty. I think Key has lost the plot on this one. I really do.

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  25. RF (1,272 comments) says:

    Mickey Mouse is rabbiting on at the Labour rag about how the meeting for the GCSB protest was a success. What utter bull shit. The usual left wing anti anything John Key supports was there. Mickey wants to get a face lift and a life. A pathetic little man.

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  26. Yoza (1,551 comments) says:

    RF (875) Says:

    Mickey Mouse is rabbiting on at the Labour rag about how the meeting for the GCSB protest was a success. What utter bull shit. The usual left wing anti anything John Key supports was there. Mickey wants to get a face lift and a life. A pathetic little man

    The perception that the GCSB is an extension of the US’s NSA is going to be difficult to shake. The New Zealand public have a history of antagonism toward politicians who regard them as stooges for the imperial arrogance of US foreign policy, you may have forgotten Brash’s ‘Gone by lunchtime’ comment.

    If the GCSB is used by the NSA or the GCSB uses the NSA’s method of collecting data the web of people who could be monitored would be huge:

    John C Inglis, the deputy director of the surveillance agency, told a member of the House judiciary committee that NSA analysts can perform “a second or third hop query” through its collections of telephone data and internet records in order to find connections to terrorist organizations.
    “Hops” refers to a technical term indicating connections between people. A three-hop query means that the NSA can look at data not only from a suspected terrorist, but from everyone that suspect communicated with, and then from everyone those people communicated with, and then from everyone all of those people communicated with.

    It would be extraordinarily difficult to find too many people who will be comfortable with this level of scrutiny.

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  27. Reid (15,970 comments) says:

    It would be extraordinarily difficult to find too many people who will be comfortable with this level of scrutiny.

    About as extraordinarily difficult as finding people who understand intelligence and the value it adds to our national security and facilitates our international diplomacy I’d say Yoza. Also about as hard as finding anyone who’s innocent and yet been unfairly persecuted by said intelligence, isn’t it, Yoza. You never ever read about those people do you, Yoza. So what’s the problem?

    Dotcom? Don’t make us laugh. Read the indictment. Who do you think gathered the data that forms its basis? GCSB? Der. NSA? Getting warmer.

    But you lefties always have hated the white man and all he represents, haven’t you. Much better to align ourselves with the Non-Aligned Nations isn’t it, Yoza. Why don’t you come out and admit you want to destroy NZ, Yoza. You may as well.

    BTW, who’s that shadow behind you?

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  28. Yoza (1,551 comments) says:

    Why don’t you come out and admit you want to destroy NZ, Yoza. You may as well.

    Gadzooks! He’s on to me. And I would’ve got away with it if it wasn’t for those dratted kids! Oh, ….and Reid and the GCSB.
    Anyone know to who I should hand myself in?

    I can’t believe I just spent the last twenty years designing Truth and Retribution Gulags for the UN’s One World Government project and its all finished.

    DAMN YOU REID!!!

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  29. Yoza (1,551 comments) says:

    Also about as hard as finding anyone who’s innocent and yet been unfairly persecuted by said intelligence, isn’t it, Yoza.

    You haven’t heard of Hilda Murrell or her nephew Robert Green who now lives in New Zealand and remains the victim of continual harassment.

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  30. wat dabney (3,672 comments) says:

    But then, I’m an honest citizen

    This is literally the most pathetic response imaginable.

    Someone so clueless about history is a terrible indictment of the (state) schooling system.

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  31. UglyTruth (4,017 comments) says:

    Also about as hard as finding anyone who’s innocent and yet been unfairly persecuted by said intelligence, isn’t it, Yoza. You never ever read about those people do you, Yoza. So what’s the problem?

    Two problems, the assumption that you’ve got be innocent before you can be unfairly persecuted, and the assumption that if you don’t read about it then it doesn’t happen.

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  32. Yoza (1,551 comments) says:

    Great quote from Glenn Greenwald off Twitter: “The NSA is the only part of the government that actually listens to the people.” (Greenwald retweeted it, originally from @DieZauberer

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  33. MiniBus (6 comments) says:

    I’m 1 of the 88 … they used signal intelligence on me as well as voice to skull … was targeted by gang staking … and there was nothing I’ve been able to do about it as I am poor … also because the neighbours were given a warrant to surveil me the privacy was non existant and personal information was passed around my workplace …. :( … had a major effect on my physical and mental health :( …. any suggestions r welcome

    Quoting: SolarPower

    Same happened to me when I went to work for a large corporation where everyone gets a bargain.

    I am not/was not a criminal just an ordinary New Zealander but they have completely ruined my life.
    Quoting: Anonymous Coward 44123969

    yes it was a large corporation I work for also … am still working for them. But because I was innocent I decided to use the technology to my advantage and threatened the neighbours (put the shits up them) and told the truth about ll the dodgy shit the company does :)
    Quoting: SolarPower

    Well, in my case I am pretty sure the neighbours are Freemasons and they are firmly in bed with the company with regard to me. They have made this fairly obvious to me over a 6 year period.

    Even though I had to quit my job due to workplace mobbing etc. 2 years later I am still under 24/7 surveillance.

    So its like a NETWORK thing. I am fairly sure that the Freemasons run this company in the shadows of the general populaces awareness and they are directly involved with the implementation of NWO agenda and introduction of socialism and have been since the company started.

    Interesting that my uniform was red which represents power in masonry. I also suspect that all employees who go to work for this company are readily surveillanced at the companies discretion.

    Basically when I went to work there its like I entered George Orwells 1984 already up and running.

    People have no idea of what the western world has turned into. Simply because they haven’t been personally targeted yet.

    God help us all. However unfortunately I don’t think he will.
    Quoting: Anonymous Coward 44123969

    hey its good to hear someone else talking about this … its very interesting the similarity’s … I’m actually in the process of trying to find an avenue to sue them for what they done. And the Free mason thing has just been made obvious to me recently …. I am rather pissed about the whole thing and am adamant to succeed in the prosecution. and yes Red is one of there main colours but I don’t think its the same company unfortunately.

    THE SOONER I GET TO THE BOTTOM OF IT THE BETTER …

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