Sunday, August 19, 2007

More spies

Back in May, it was revealed that SOE Solid Energy was using private investigators to infiltrate protest groups. This immediately raised the obvious question: who else was spying? The Sunday Star-Times has been digging into this with the OIA, and today reveals that three two other public organisations have also been engaged in spying on their critics: AgResearch, the New Zealand Pork Industry Board, and Massey University. More disturbingly, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry refused to confirm or deny, which means that theyhave been spying but don't want to admit it. Expect Jim Anderton's feet to be held to the fire over this next week in Parliament.

This sort of spying is a threat to democracy, and it needs to be stamped out. Public bodies should not be trying to undermine the right of the public to protest and criticise. Any public sector CEO or board who does not accept that needs to be fired immediately.

Correction: Massey University used TCIL for "a security review and to help tender guard services for its Palmerston North campus", which is somewhat different from the other two.