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Spy bill changes an improvement, but further change needed

Press Release – Internet NZ

InternetNZ (Internet New Zealand Inc) has considered the outcomes of discussions between Hon Peter Dunne and the Government in respect of the GCSB legislation currently being considered by the Intelligence and Security Committee.Spy bill changes an improvement, but further change needed

Media release – 23 July 2013

InternetNZ (Internet New Zealand Inc) has considered the outcomes of discussions between Hon Peter Dunne and the Government in respect of the GCSB legislation currently being considered by the Intelligence and Security Committee.

InternetNZ supports the changes as far as they go, but believes they do not go far enough to assuage the concerns identified in a wide range of submissions on the Bill.

The Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill (GCSB Bill) would expand the powers of the government in intercepting the private communications of Internet users in order to protect New Zealand’s national security, international relations, and economic well-being.

In its positions on the GCSB Bill and the Telecommunications Interception Capability and Security Bill (TICS Bill), InternetNZ raised questions on the possible impact of the legislation on Internet-based business in New Zealand, the innovation environment for networks, and privacy online. It joined the Legislation Advisory Committee, the Human Rights Commission, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and the Law Society in calling for stronger legal oversight for interception warrants.

Oversight

“The reported changes bring us closer right balance between Internet users’ privacy and security, but there is still a way to go” says Jordan Carter, Chief Executive.

“A small step was made in this direction by agreeing that the Inspector-General be notified when a warrant is issued, but that does not amount to meaningful independent oversight.

“InternetNZ recommended in its submission that interception warrants be signed off by active judges, which would satisfy concerns about oversight. The former Director of the GCSB himself agreed that judicial oversight is a good idea. The Bill should still be amended to provide for this.”

Hear what NetHui GCSB Panellists have to say on Oversight, here.

Review

InternetNZ supports the idea of an independent review of New Zealand’s intelligence agencies, scheduled for 2015 under the agreement between Hon Peter Dunne and the Government.

“It would be good to see the nature of this review spelled out in some detail (perhaps by agreement of a Terms of Reference) before the legislation is passed,” Jordan Carter says.

“We note that such a review would ideally happen before, not after the legislation that provoked it is in place – but the proposed review will, in the end, kick off the wider public debate that is needed. In 2015 it will be well past time for the whole structure of the intelligence community to be on the table.”

Hear Dr. Paul Buchanan’s views on the role of New Zealand’s intelligence agencies at the NetHui GCSB Panel, here.

Metadata

In its submission to the Intelligence and Security Committee, InternetNZ called for a wider discussion of what “private communications” means, and for clarity on how metadata will be treated under the act.

On this note, InternetNZ welcomes the review of “private communications”, and encourages a robust examination of metadata as part of that review.

More Debate

“If one thing was clear at our panel at NetHui, was that we need more debate on this entire issue, if anything to ensure that the New Zealand public is sufficiently aware of the changing communications environment.

“People need to know under what general terms their private communications will or will not be intercepted.

The panel consensus for more debate on the GCSB Bill, here.
Waiting for the SOP

While the changes have been reported in the media, a formal report from the Intelligence and Security Committee has yet to issue. The legislative amendments, to be introduced by means of a Supplementary Order Paper, have yet to be made public.

InternetNZ awaits the report and the SOP, and will scrutinise the amendments as swiftly as possible once they are available. Further comment will be made at that time.
ENDS

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