Monday, August 15, 2016

Against domestic spying

Last year, National held a strapped-chicken review into "our" intelligence agencies. In March, it duly reported back with the expected results, recommending more money, more powers, and fewer legal restraints for the spies. One of their core recommendations was to remove the longstanding prohibition on the GCSB spying domesticly. And today, it looks like the government is going to introduce legislation to do that.

We should not be doing this. The techniques used by the GCSB in collecting foreign intelligence - full-take collection of entire countries' internet and telephone communications feeds - are mass surveillance. The justification for using them for foreign intelligence is tenuous - we're not at war, and we simply have no enemies which justify such extreme action. The idea of doing it to New Zealanders, in peacetime, is simply monstrous. It turns us into a mass-surveillance society, and no amount of GCSB bullshit about how its not "surveillance" until they pick your data out of the feed and look at it changes that.

Despite the best efforts of the spy agencies to convince us otherwise, New Zealand faces no credible domestic or external threats. None whatsoever. And insofar as we have transnational criminals and potentially violent extremists, they're jobs for the police. We have no need for spy agencies, and absolutely no need to let them spy on every aspect of our lives as proposed.

Instead of granting the GCSB more powers, we should be shutting them down. Disestablish the agency, sack all their staff, and throw all their gear and records into a volcano. Make New Zealand a Five Eyes-Free Zone, rather than another US-run surveillance state.

Meanwhile, I'm wondering: will Labour oppose this? Will they repeal these changes if National rams it through with Winston's votes? And if not, what fucking good are they?