Thursday, July 04, 2013

Not reassuring

One of the changes in John Key's spy bill is to make some GCSB interceptions require the approval of the Commissioner of Security Warrants. Its a slight improvement, but its not particularly reassuring. Why? Because the Commissioner of Security Warrants has in the past been a simple rubber-stamp, who never refuses anything. And there's no evidence that the new regime will change that. The job will continue to be a part-time one in which the Commissioner will have neither the time nor the resources to adequately consider applications.

And the government implicitly recognises this. On Tuesday they appointed former Court of Appeal judge Bruce Robertson as Commissioner of Security Warrants. And today, they appointed him as chair of the Sports Tribunal. Clearly they're not expecting the duties of keeping an eye on the GCSB and SIS to ensure they are not breaking the law and spying on New Zealanders to be too strenuous.