IT Brief New Zealand - Technology news for CIOs & IT decision-makers
Story image
The Spy who killed Kiwi Privacy
Thu, 27th Jun 2013
FYI, this story is more than a year old

“Mass surveillance is morally indefensible. Stop US spy subsidiaries in New Zealand. Stop the GCSB bill. Demand Independent Inquiry of #GCSB.

In typical Kim Dotcom fashion, the Megaupload founder vented his fears through social media, warning of the consequences when the New Zealand government abuses their powers in a submission to parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee.

Showing his public disdain for controversial proposals to reform the government's Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill, Dotcom wrote.

“This bill seems to give the GCSB, a dysfunctional agency which has failed at every turn in recent times, virtually unlimited power to surveil us all at the whim of the prime minister and then to share that information with anyone (including foreign entities),” he wrote.

“The circumstances that we have endured over the past 18 months represent an extreme present day example of what can happen when government and intelligence agencies misuse or misunderstand their powers.

A recent inquiry claims as many as 88 Kiwis may have been illegally spied on, yet the report insists the law was not broken as a result.

Backing the proposal, Prime Minister John Key argued that the bill doesn't expand the GCSB's powers by allowing the organisation to spy on New Zealanders, rather enables other agencies to use its capabilities.

Dotcom had the last word on proceedings however, tweeting: “Say NO to the US - their #GCSB spy bill."

Telco bill

In a separate piece of Kiwi legislation, the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Bill, before the Law - Order Select Committee this week, has been widely opposed by New Zealand telcos.

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.

But 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:

“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.

This article was updated at 3:03pm Thursday 27 June 2013.