Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Law Society on the spy bill

At the moment the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade committee is hearing submissions on John Key's Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill. One of the first submitters was the Law Society. So what did they think of it? It is a disproportionate response to the problem:

some provisions in the Bill substantially interfere with and reduce human rights and individual liberty. Thus, the powers taken should be limited strictly to what is required by the threats that have arisen.

They're recommending that the term for passport denial not be extended, and that it be subject to stronger judicial review. They think that there's a very weak case for visual surveillance powers. Visual surveillance seems less appropriate for intelligence work, and the threshold in the bill is significantly lower than that required by police for such surveillance. As for warrantless emergency surveillance, they again note that the threshold is far too low, the period too long, and the safeguards nonexistent. They also criticise the use of urgency and the extended "sunset clause".

These are all strong criticisms. If you'd like to add your voice to them, please submit. There's a submission guide here. Just do it quickly, because submissions close today.