So, the government's whitewash review of intelligence agencies has (as predicted) recommended increased powers for the spies - most significantly, by giving the GCSB explicit legal power to spy on New Zealanders. The "justification"?
Cullen said spying laws passed in 2014 to allow the GCSB to spy on New Zealanders [or rather, assist SIS and Police] had not solved the problem, with a lack of legal clarity and "some pretty condemnatory reviews" in recent years making the agency "extremely risk-averse".
Removing all restrictions on spying on New Zealanders, rather than adding specific exceptions, was the only way to solve the issue, he said.
Right. So the solution to an agency which has shown that it cannot be trusted to obey the law is to remove all legal checks and balances on it. Yeah, fuck that. When it comes to spy agencies with highly intrusive powers, I want them to be "risk averse" about invading privacy. And I want them to be very, very careful about whether they are obeying the law. Cullen's approach makes the spies a law unto themselves, checked only by "oversight" which happens in secret and which the spies themselves have shown they circumvent and mushroom. And that's not good enough.
I have a better plan: rather than give the GCSB more powers to spy on us, lets shut them down, sack their staff, and throw all their spy-gear into a volcano. Make New Zealand a Five Eyes free zone, rather than collaborating in their global panopticon.
John Key has made it clear that he wants bipartisan support for any change, and realistically this proposal can only pass with Labour's support. So, the question is whether Andrew Little will vote for this travesty. Hopefully Labour will have grown a spine on this, and will put the spies in their place.