Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Weak safeguards

How strong a safeguard are the "concessions" Peter Dunne extracted from John Key's spy bill? Weak, according to the NZ Law Society's chief submitter:

Changes to the GCSB bill negotiated by United Future leader Peter Dunne do no address the main flaws of the bill, says Rodney Harrison, QC, who says it is still "rushed, ill-conceived and downright dangerous legislation."

"The bill unnecessarily broadens the functions and powers of the GCSB," he said. "The need to do so has not been demonstrated."

He also said the promise of a review of the GCSB and SIS in 2015 "merely holds out false hope."


Dr Harrison said the changes to the bill essentially related to what Mr Dunne termed as "increased oversight, and a future "independent review of the operations and performance of the GCSB and NZSIS and their governing legislation".

"However, none of these measures addresses the substantive flaws in the GCSB Bill, which have been repeatedly pointed out to the Government during the select committee process. "

Unfortunately it appears that the government sees those flaws as a feature, not a bug. Domestic spying powers, wider warrants allowing class-based surveillance without individualised suspicion, and greater warrantless access are exactly what an agency which wants to "take it all" wants.

Meanwhile, opposition to the bill has received another boost, with a former Supreme Court Judge joining tomorrow night's public meeting. Its an impressive lineup, including the New Zealander of the Year and the Law Society, and it will be difficult for the government to use the usual arrogant tactic of dismissing it as a "rent a mob". But no doubt they'll try that anyway.