Wednesday, December 04, 2013

More police spying

Operation 8, the police's "unlawful, unjustified and unreasonable" attack on Tuhoe, involved widespread surveillance, including wiretaps, computer searches, and unlawful video surveillance. Now it appears that the surveillance dragnet was even wider than we thought:

Well-known New Zealanders not associated with paramilitary training in the Te Urewera National Park were monitored by police during Operation 8, Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell says.

Flavell, who said the surveillance carried on for some time after the raids, is demanding answers from police.

A surveillance log obtained by Flavell and which he has asked police to verify relates to the 2007 armed raids near the eastern Bay of Plenty town of Ruatoki.

The log, given to him by a member of the public, details who was being surveilled, what they were doing and who was nearby and records information such as internet searches.

It covers a period of three years before Operation 8 and some time after, he said.

This raises several questions: most obviously, why exactly were the police spying on these people? If they weren't associated with the paramilitary training, then there appears to be no case to justify surveillance. But beyond that: if the police have obtained internet searches from these people, it means they either obtained interception warrants, or they got the GCSB to use PRISM to obtain them in violation of New Zealand law. Either way, it is a gross intrusion of privacy, and one we deserve serious answers on. While we expect the police to protect the public, they must be proportionate in exercising their powers - and on its face, this appears not to be.