Thursday, July 04, 2013

Says it all

The big question around the government's two spy bills currently being rammed through the house is "are these powers really necessary"? Its a question I would expect the select committees considering the bill to ask strongly, by demanding GCSB appear in front of them to justify themselves. Sadly, it appears that for at least one of the bills, that won't be happening:

The country’s spy agency will not be asked to explain why it needs new powers to compel telecommunications firms to do its bidding.

Labour had hoped to question the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) on why it needed changes proposed in the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Bill.

These would oblige traditional network operators to ensure their networks were capable of being lawfully intercepted and to follow the spy agency's directions on network security.

But law and order select committee chairwoman Jacqui Dean said the bureau would not be called to give oral evidence.

Still, at least in that case GCSB has given the committee written evidence. Apparently the Intelligence and Security Committee currently considering the main spy bill won't even be gettign that, with GCSB, SIS, police and the defence force (all of whom would gain access to massive new domestic spying powers under the bill) not even making submissions.

This says it all. The security agencies are treating Parliament like they treat their Inspector-General: as a rubber-stamp to be mushroomed (or, as we saw from John Key yesterday, terrorised with the threat of dead babies on his watch). And that's not good enough. If these agencies won't front up, their legislation should be refused. It's that simple.