Monday, August 19, 2013

The other spy bill II

While attention is focused on the GCSB Bill, John Key's other spy bill, the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Bill is currently before select committee. The bill updates the Telecommunications (Interception Capability) Act 2004, which requires "telecommunications providers" to have built-in interception capability for police and spies. But it goes further than that, requiring ISPs to register with police like printing presses in pre-Enlightenment monarchies and giving the GCSB power to micromanage individual ISPs procurement decisions. More importantly, it allows them to require that internet services, such as Gmail, Dropbox, or any other website, also provide interception capability. And apparently the government is planning to impose this requirement in secret:

Para 104 of the December 2012 "Technical Paper: Telecommunications Interception Capability and Network Security" by MBIE (page 19 of the combined document); para 109 of the paper to the Cabinet Committee on Domestic and External Security Coordination (page 62); and para 37 of the Cabinet paper (page 74) all confirm the same thing:

A Ministerial directive will be used to secretly/confidentially impose an obligation to create interception capabilities by individually named service providers (referred to as "deem-in" but what I call a backdoor) "so as not to publicly announce a lack of capability in a particular service."

The Government is therefore going to be using secret orders to specific service providers directing the creation of interception capability, allowing real-time access by surveillance agencies

(The documents referred to are here)

So, its not enough for John Key to have the capability to spy on all your domestically sent emails and phone calls, he also wants to prevent you from being able to take any steps to protect your privacy. And while he says this will only be to "protect" us, overseas we've seen where this inevitably leads: to pervasive spying on whistleblowers, journalists, and others who expose wrongdoing by the bureaucracy and the government of the day.

Microsoft has already threatened to leave the country in response to TICS, and they'd be wise to. but the real victims will be our small internet startups, whose services will be spook-compromised from the outset, and thus unmarketable overseas. The cost of this law may well be to strangle our internet industry, making us even more reliant on (poisoned) milk.