Spy law reform bill introduced

John Key announced:

Prime Minister John Key today introduced a bill to update the legislative framework and improve the transparency of New Zealand’s intelligence and security agencies.

The New Zealand Intelligence and Security Bill 2016 is the Government’s response to the first independent review of intelligence and security presented to Parliament in March 2016 by Sir Michael Cullen and Dame Patsy Reddy. …

Key aspects of the legislation include:

  • Creating a single Act to cover the agencies, replacing the four separate acts which currently exist.

  • Introducing a new warranting framework for intelligence collection, including a ‘triple lock’ protection for any warrant involving a New Zealander.

  • Enabling more effective cooperation between the NZSIS and .

  • Improving the oversight of NZSIS and GCSB by strengthening the role of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security and expanding parliamentary oversight. 

  • Bringing the NZSIS and GCSB further into the core public service, increasing accountability and transparency.

More info is at DPMC. Stuff reports:

But the Government varied from one recommendations in the report by former deputy prime minister Sir Michael Cullen and incoming Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy.

It would have given the GCSB the power to enter and search private premises, but the new law would instead make it clear, for instance, that the GCSB can conduct a “remote search” of a computer but the would carry out a physical search of a property.

But they would have the full suite of powers when operating together.

So the bill doesn’t go so far as Cullen recommended in terms of powers for the GCSB.

Labour will support the Bill to select committee but has problems with some elements of it, including the definition of national security and the level of privacy protections.

Labour leader Andrew Little said the law controlling the work and scope of the agencies needed to be updated so they can adapt to a rapidly changing environment and new challenges.

“While we will support the Bill at first reading, it does not get the balance quite right. I have confidence changes can be made at select committee which is why Labour will support the Bill at first reading.”

The present definition of national security was too broad “and must be narrowed down to actual threats to security and government”.

Key indicated the Government was open to changes, including to the national security definition, to get broad support.

It will be good if any changes have broad support. The Greens of course want to abolish the GCSB so no matter what is in the bill they are obliged to oppose it.

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