Thursday, April 22, 2021

Why do we tolerate this?

This week Nicky Hager has been going after Thompson and Clark Investigations, New Zealand's most immoral private investigation firm, with stories on how they spied for the Exclusive Brethren and employ former SIS agents. Today's revelation is that that agent was spying on school-children for the oil industry:

School children from the group School Strike 4 Climate joined a peaceful protest against the oil-exploration company OMV in New Plymouth a year ago, only weeks after unprecedented numbers joined their 27 September school strike marches around New Zealand. Public concern about climate change had never been so great. These were peaceful, democratic protests.

But a two-year investigation has found that they and other climate change groups were targets of the private investigation firm Thompson and Clark, paid by clients from the oil and gas industry.

The investigation reveals that a major focus of Thompson and Clark in 2019 and 2020 – years of storms, floods, forest fires and marching school children – was monitoring and helping to counter citizen groups concerned about climate change.

Spying on the environmental movement is the core business of this evil company. But spying on schoolkids is a new low even for them. The core client they're doing this for is Austrian-owned OMV, which is basicly paying a former NZ spy to disrupt and undermine our democracy. I guess he has prior experience.

The protest groups TCIL is spying on for its foreign polluter clients are part of our democratic fabric, and by spying on them TCIL is actively undermining our democracy. As noted when the government was caught using this private stasi a few years ago, this sort of spying undermines people's trust in one another and impedes their exercise of their political rights (which is the point). Why do we tolerate this? What possible public good does it serve? We do not let the government do it. So why should we let someone abuse their fellow citizens as a business?

Private investigation firms are required to be licensed, but the licensing conditions are remarkably weak (basicly it boils down to "not having been convicted of a crime", which seems like a very low bar). Its time they were strengthened to include a requirement that licence-holders not spy on political parties or protest groups, or engage in anti-democratic activity. Put the stasi out of business, and our democracy will be better for it.