Thursday, November 03, 2016

Still unfit for purpose

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has released their second annual report [PDF]. The headline news? The SIS is still unfit for purpose:

Overall, I conclude that some further work is required before I can assess NZSIS’s compliance procedures and systems as sound

Or, to put it in English: the Inspector-General does not have confidence that the SIS is obeying the law or will notice if it is not.

As the Inspector-General makes clear in their annual report, this is a fundamental requirement for any modern intelligence service. And the SIS has failed to meet it in both years when it has been required to be publicly certified. Which really calls into question the lawfulness of everything they've ever done.

And that's not the only problem. As the Herald points out, the SIS also appears to be resisting IGIS oversight:
In early 2015, Gwyn raised a serious issue about whether certain SIS activity was lawful and, if not, how that could be remedied.

"I raised the issue with the Director in June 2015 and provided the Director with detailed provisional findings on my view of the legality of the activity in August 2015. The NZSIS provided its first substantive response to the questions raised in March-April 2016," Gwyn wrote in the annual report, released today.

While she appreciated the issue was complex and substantial work is underway on the questions raised, Gwyn said the "time taken to engage with and resolve this significant issue is in itself a matter of concern".

With these sorts of problems, the government would be mad to even consider granting an agency like the SIS further powers. But that is exactly what they're doing. The opposition parties should reject these efforts and commit to repealing any extra powers given to this lawless agency.