Search and Surveillance Bill rewrite

The Dom Post:

Sweeping changes to search and surveillance laws have been sent back to the drawing board after a widespread outcry.

Critics labelled the Search and Surveillance Bill “chilling” and said it gave a raft of state agencies – including council dog-control officers and meat inspectors – sweeping powers to spy, bug conversations and hack into private computers.

The chairman of Parliament’s justice committee, Chester Borrows, said it was never Parliament’s intention to bestow such powers and blamed the confusion on poorly worded legislation.

“We’ve looked at the bill too and we are concerned by some of the language … we can see how people ended up [so concerned].”

The legislation was now likely to be delayed until next year to allow time to rewrite it and take public concerns into account. Those who gave evidence to the select committee would be given time to consider the new proposals and make fresh submissions.

This is absolutely the right thing to do. The bill, as drafted, would give many more state agencies the power to plants bugs in your home etc. This was largely unintended as a result of the Law Commission wanting  standard regime for such powers, but the reality is that not all state agencies are equal, and such powers should be restricted to as few as possible.

It is good we will be able to make submissions on the revised bill. I’ll blog on it when it is published.

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