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Google issues NZ spy threat

03 Jul 2013
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Google has warned that government plans to introduce new spy laws could see companies quit New Zealand, in protest over the bill.

The Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Bill, before the Law & Order Select Committee this week, has been widely opposed by New Zealand telcos, with the internet search giant now joining the list.

The bill is proposing changes to the existing legislation by which telcos are required to act on warrants to intercept customer communications, while also containing new provisions requiring telcos to consult with government on network security matters relating to new network infrastructure.

Proposing that communications companies work with the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) as a result, Google has hit back at the plans in a written submission.

"[While] interception tools are necessary for the effective maintenance of law," Google wrote.

"[The bill] would likely raise public fears of unjustified intrusion into their privacy."

"As one of the most isolated countries in the world", Google says New Zealand benefits from the internet, yet questions the proposals of the bill.

"Yet these social and economic benefits would be reduced by many of the additional obligations introduced by the bill," Google wrote.

Google are not alone however, adding to the growing list of objection, telcos Telecom, Vodafone and Chorus have all opposed the oral submission, with Chorus principal counsel Airihi Mahuika telling Parliament’s law and order select committee last week:

“We don’t agree that statutory powers for GCSB to require additional security are necessary or in the public interest,” she said.

“The current proposals could require significant investment, delays in procurement processes, impact on commercial interest, contractual obligations and potentially stifle innovation.”

Mega CEO Vikram Kumar also insisted there was currently no basis to propose such a bill.

“The competitive position of New Zealand will be significantly weakened if this bill passes in its current form,” he said.

“We’re disappointed that no evidence has been provided whatsoever on the need for this law, particularly in relation to service providers.”

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