GCSB Changes

has announced changes to the oversight of the GCSB and SIS:

1: The pool of candidates who are able to perform the role of Inspector General will be widened, by removing the requirement that the person be a retired High Court judge. This will broaden the range of experience and capability available to the role. For example, Australia’s equivalent is a former ombudsman.

2: The Inspector General’s office will be made more proactive, taking it a step further from the role it currently has, which is more review-focused. The office would be able to undertake its own inquiries more easily, and it will be expected to specifically note publicly each year its view on whether or not the agencies it oversees are compliant with the law.

The Government will increase the scope of the Inspector General’s active review programme to include a much broader range of the agencies’ activities. This will have the effect of making the Inspector General’s role more proactive.

3: The resourcing and staffing of the Inspector General’s office will be increased, and the new role of Deputy Inspector General will be created.

4: Legislation will explicitly expand the Inspector General’s work programme, including compliance audits and greater reporting responsibilities. ’s own quarterly reporting processes will be tightened up.

5: The Inspector General’s work will become more transparent, through greater availability of its reports and views publicly.

These all look like good changes, in line with what Kitteridge recommended.

I presume these proposed changes be open for submissions, and there may be further changes that can be proposed and considered.

“It is now the responsible thing to do to clarify the legislation, to make it clear the GCSB can provide support to agencies which are undertaking their lawful duties.

“To do anything less would be to leave our national security open to threat, and as Prime Minister I am simply not willing to do that. To do nothing would be an easy course of action politically, but it would be an irresponsible one.”

Mr Key says thetre proposed changes to the GCSB Act will clarify its long-standing practices, so the GCSB can provide assistance to other agencies, subject to conditions and oversight.

I think this is inevitable and desirable. It would be silly to allow what was basically a drafting error in the 2003 law, neuter our capacity to respond to potential security threats.

However it is important that any legislation restricts the GCSB to assistance where an independent warrant has been granted to the other agency. And the changes above must include specific disclosure of such assistance as part of regular reporting so that one can see that any assistance is rare and only in line with warrants issued by the appropriate authorities.

I assume and hope that the legislation will follow the normal legislative path, including committee submissions. Of course it will go to the Intelligence and Security Committee, rather than a select committee.

The ISC comprises (I think) John Key, David Shearer, Peter Dunne, John Banks and Russel Norman

Today, Mr Key also released the terms of reference into the unauthorised disclosure of Ms Kitteridge’s report.

The Commissioners of the report, DPMC Chief Executive Andrew Kibblewhite and GCSB Director Ian Fletcher, have appointed David Henry to conduct the inquiry.

Good. It is outrageous that the draft report was leaked, and there are only a few people who could have had access to it. Hopefully the inquiry will discover the person responsible.

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