Sunday, October 6, 2013

John Key's new Top Secret Special job


Did you attend Aorangi School or Burnside High School? Do you remember John Key from Kindergarten or did your mother know his mother?

If so, this may be the chance of your life to strike it big. John Key is looking for that special person to fill a new role in his life: the Deputy Chief Executive for Security and Intelligence.

This is the first major opportunity to have “direct access” to JK since the appointment of Ian Fletcher as director of the GCSB. The job description states that “the position will be responsible for the oversight of the performance of the New Zealand Intelligence Community (NZIC), comprising the GCSB, NZSIS, and NAB” and “to ensure the Prime Minister and Ministers receive integrated, high quality advice on security issues.”

There are two requirements. The applicant must have:
  • “Broad and deep experience in NZ Government.” Anyone who has had regular contact with government departments, such as WINZ, ACC, the Department of Justice or EQC is likely to meet this criterion. 
  • “Top Secret Special security clearance.” If this sounds fancy, it is. This security clearance is so special and secret, there aren’t even any documents matching it because there is no security classification above Top Secret. Also, the public is not allowed to know which jobs require this clearance. If this makes sense to you, you might be the person for the job.
Warning – you will have staff responsibilities for members of organisations that have a track record of breaking the law. However, the good news is that if any illegalities become public knowledge, the law will then be retrospectively changed.

If you are interested in the position, you can apply officially through the State Services Commission or preferably directly to John Key himself. Don’t forget to remind him of your common past.

The closing date is 5pm Monday 14 October 2013.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Stop the TICS Bill - public meeting

Public meeting: Stop the TICS (Telecommunications Interception Capability and Security) Bill


7 pm, Monday, 23 September, 7pm
Old St Paul's Church, Mulgrave St, Wellington


Speakers:
  • Seeby Woodhouse (Orcon founder)
  • Jane Kelsey (Law professor)
  • John Minto (Global Peace and Justice Auckland)
  • Thomas Beagle (Tech Liberty)
  • Vikram Kumar (Mega CEO)

Hosted by Global Peace and Justice Auckland

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

GCSB Bill Passes

The GCSB and Related Legislation Amendment Bill was passed on the 21st August; now it just awaits the royal stamp of approval. One month after getting royal assent the three Acts that make up this Bill – the new GCSB Act, the updated Inspector General of Intelligence and Security Act, and the Intelligence and Security Committee Amendment Act, will all be law.

It has been a long time in this country since a bill has failed to gain 'royal assent', but even though in 'modern law' 'royal assenting' appears to be just rubber-stamping, legal experts say that the governor-general can withhold assent. For those who believe in the legal route, it would be good if this Bill could be the one that fails at the last hurdle.

For once this Bill becomes law, the three Acts that it includes will join a long line of laws recently passed in the name of 'protecting and strengthening state security'; these laws include the Terrorism Suppression Act, the Maritime Security Act, the Border Security, the Aviation Security Act, the Telecommunications Interception Capability Act, the SIS Act, the Police Act, and the Search and Surveillance Act. Soon, not only these three Acts passed tonight will join this list, but also the Telecommunications Interception Capability and Security (TICS) Bill. The 'TICS' Bill is set to be reported back to parliament on 30th September.

These laws and Bills are a threat.

The government keeps mentioning the 'terrorist' and attacks on cyber-security as being the great threats, but the reality is the threat comes from the state. Surveillance is oppressive, violent and controlling. These laws and bills protect and strengthen the apparatus of state surveillance, state control and state repression. We must fight them any way our conscience and principles allow.

These laws need to be stopped.

Third and Final Reading - 21 August

The third and final reading of the Bill will probably be today, Tuesday 6th August, between 4 and 6pm. The public gallery will be open to the public.

People are meeting at the Cenotaph at 3pm to 'put the nails in the coffin of democracy'.

If you are unable to attend, the reading of the Bill can be listened to on the radio or watched on Parliament TV.

We wish to reiterate that instead of the GCSB bill being passed into law today, we should be accepting John Key’s resignation.

Enough spying lies, John - resign now.

Media Release: Enough spying lies, John - resign now.
From: Organising Against State Intelligence and Surveillance (OASIS)
Date: 21 August 2013

“Instead of hearing of the GCSB bill being passed into law today, we would like to be accepting John Key’s resignation for the lies and obfuscations he has used to bolster his case for more spying,” said Anna Thorby on behalf of OASIS, “but sadly it will be like a lot of his other statements and reassurances that he makes in relation to state surveillance—meaningless hot air.”

This week John Key told reporters that he and his friend, Ian Fletcher, would resign if the GCSB undertook mass surveillance. But without missing a beat, he said that that would not happen as the only way it would be possible was if the GCSB were to undertake illegal activity.

“If John Key meant what he said, why didn't he resign when it became public knowledge that the GCSB had spied illegally on Dotcom, his family and his work associates? Instead his Deputy Bill English tried to cover up the entire thing. How is anyone to know if the GCSB is acting illegally since we cannot find out any meaningful information about the agency through the so-called ‘oversight.’ It was only the diligence of Dotcom’s lawyers and the insistence of the court that the GCSB’s criminal acts were exposed. The GCSB has undertaken illegal activities, and we have every reason to believe that they will continue to do so.”

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Update: Reading of Bill delayed

Radio NZ reports that further debate about the GCSB Bill and the subsequent third reading has been delayed and probably won't happen until August 20.

At yesterday's debate, Peter Dunne was not waivering in his support for the Bill, still claiming that the Henry inquiry's spying on his and Andrea Vance's emails had nothing to do with state spying powers. He also continually claimed that his amendments to the Bill have addressed all the criticism that has come from the likes of the Law Society and others, and that there will be nothing to worry about once the changes have been adopted.

Also in yesterday's debate, the Attorney General Chris Finlayson claimed that the Law Society had no undertsanding of the law.

Hopefully this delay will give people more time to do some protesting...

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

GCSB Bill

Part One of the GCSB Bill was debated Tuesday and will continue this week.

Protests continue against the bill and include:

Action: Wednesday 3pm, (07/08/13), outside GCSB HQ, Pipitea House, Wellington

Surveil the Surveillers - Unmask the Spies - come dressed in a trench coat, wear dark glasses, bring a surveillance camera, masks and a whistle or two.

Pipitea House houses an interesting group of people, including not only the GCSB but also the Department of Minister and Cabinet (DPMC), the National Assessments Bureau (NAB), the Combined Threat Assessment Group (CTAG) and the Security and Risk Group (SRG). CTAG includes representatives from the Police, the GCSB, the Security Intelligence Service (SIS), the New Zealand Defence Force, Maritime New Zealand and the New Zealand Customs Service.

Action: Thursday (08/08/13) approximately 3pm, Parliament.

The Bill will probably be having its third and final reading. Attend Parliament, go to the Public Gallery - be a witness.

And of course: contact MPs (National, John Banks and Peter Dunne) and urge them not to vote for the Bill.

GCSB BIll Being Debated Tues night

In a rushed move National is trying to push through the GCSB bill tonight, Tuesday 6th August. They are currently debating the bill. The public gallery is open or the debate can be listened to here: http://www.radionz.co.nz/parliament
or watched  on Parliament TV.


Media coverage of yesterday's meeting

Radio NZ's report about the meeting last night can be found here.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Protest the GCSB

The GCSB Bill will have its third and final reading this week - probably on Thursday. Once that's done, it's basically law - it'll just be waiting for royal assent. But people are still fighting.
 
At Monday's public meeting in Wellington, the following activities were planned:

Action: Tuesday 2pm, (06/08/13), at Peter Dunne's home: 31 Box Hill, Khandallah  in the Ohariu Electorate.

Put Dunne's home under surveillance

"The vulnerability of the GCSB Bill will be tested tomorrow at a protest against Peter Dunne.
Organisers of the protest have spoken to Peter Dunne's neighbours, who say they are also against the new spying powers of the GCSB Bill."

Action: Wednesday 3pm, (07/08/13), outside GCSB HQ, Pipitea House, Wellington

Surveil the Surveillers - Unmask the Spies - come dressed in a trench coat, wear dark glasses, bring a surveillance camera, masks and a whistle or two.

Pipitea House houses an interesting group of people, including not only the GCSB but also the Department of Minister and Cabinet (DPMC), the National Assessments Bureau (NAB), the Combined Threat Assessment Group (CTAG) and the Security and Risk Group (SRG). CTAG includes representatives from the Police, the GCSB, the Security Intelligence Service (SIS), the New Zealand Defence Force, Maritime New Zealand and the New Zealand Customs Service.

Action: Thursday (08/08/13) approximately 3pm, Parliament.

The Bill will probably be having its third and final reading. Attend Parliament, go to the Public Gallery - be a witness.

And of course: contact MPs (National, John Banks and Peter Dunne) and urge them not to vote for the Bill.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Nothing to hide - everything to fear



Public meeting: Looking at surveillance beyond the GCSB Bill


Nothing to Hide ... Everything to Fear is the title of a public meeting being hosted by OASIS. The GCSB Bill is just one of the latest in a line of law changes that are expanding and normalising state surveillance.

In recent years there have been many legal changes attacking our rights in the name of security, these include the Terrorism Suppression Act, Maritime Security Act, Border Security, Aviation Security Act, Telecommunications Interception Capability Act, the SIS Act, the Police Act, the Search and Surveillance Act and now back to round two of the GCSB Act and the Telecommunications Interception Capability Act.

All these laws bring in more surveillance and in NZ that is primarily the role of the police, the SIS and the GCSB. Over the years every one of these state agencies has acted outside of their briefs. Every time their illegal activities become public knowledge, there are changes in the law to legalise their activities and / or to expand their powers. What is happening with the GCSB Bill is a case in point.

It is time to say enough is enough – for one of the greatest threats to our security is actually ever-increasing invasion of our privacy. Surveillance is the threat.

Speakers
  • Helen Kelly (CTU)
  • Thomas Beagle (Tech Liberty)
  • Kate Dewes (Peace Campaigner)
Monday, 5 August, 6pm
St John’s Hall,  Willis St/Dixon St

Monday, July 22, 2013

Media Release: Business as usual for spooks

Organising Against State Intelligence and Surveillance (OASIS)
22 July 2013

The country’s top spooks will be meeting in Wellington tomorrow (July 23) for the annual conference of the NZ Institute of Intelligence Professionals (NZIIP).

Every day, more details about large scale spying by the NSA, the GCHQ and other agencies is being revealed.

“The spy industry seems to be un-fazed by the Snowden leaks and is carrying on with business as usual,” OASIS spokesperson Anna Thorby said.

“And why wouldn’t they? The NZ government is giving them a clear message of more business to come by pushing through a Bill that would legalise the GCSB’s spying on New Zealanders.”

“The links between the government and the private spying industry are clear. Palantir, the main sponsor of the conference, is advertising for engineers to be ‘embedded’ with the New Zealand government. They are already supplying software for both the NSA and the New Zealand army.

“SIS director Warren Tucker has been the patron for the NZIIP since its start in 2008 and is about to become a ‘fellow’ of the institute.”

At the institute’s inaugural meeting, then prime minister Helen Clark gave a speech in which she indicated that she already knew about the NSA and GCHQ’s blanket collection of communication.

Clark said: “For some states […] the protective imperative has led to the balance being struck in favour of providing their intelligence organizations with access to large data sets.”

The title of this year’s conference is “Exploring Behavioural Drivers” and speakers will focus on how to use those large data sets to predict people’s behaviour.

“While the state is saying that this is used to detect terrorist plans, it can equally be used to suppress any form of political dissent and to influence debate,” Ms Thorby said.

“In the light of recent events highlighting the exposure of both the NSA and GCSB’s illegal surveillance, it should not be business as usual for the spies. There should be no more strengthening of ties between the corporate and state spies. Rather it is time to step back and re-evalaute the whole UKUSA Agreement. NZ should pull out of it now.”

ENDS

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Nationwide protests against GCSB Bill

On Saturday, July 27 at 2pm there will be protests and demonstrations against the GCSB bill around the country.

The Wellington demo will start at the bucket fountain on Cuba Mall and go to parliament. Protests in other cities are:

Auckland: 2pm Aotea Square
Hamilton: 2pm Garden Place
Napier: 2pm Memorial Square
Nelson: 2pm Halifax Street
Christchurch: 2pm Bridge of Remembrance
Dunedin: 2pm Octagon

The protests are organised by a group called 'Stop the GCSB Bill'. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Submissions on GCSB Bill

With the Security and Intelligence Committee dragging its heels over publishing the submissions on the GCSB Bill, Fairfax has put up a document with all 124 submisssions. Click here to read.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Spy conference in Wellington

On July 23, the ‘NZ Institute of Intelligence Professionals’ will hold its annual conference with the title “Exploring Behavioural Drivers” in the James Cook Hotel in Wellington. The following article looks at how exploring behavioural patterns and the recently revealed mass surveillance of metadata by the NSA and others are related.

Read more

Saturday, July 6, 2013

'Neither confirm nor deny'? Time for a complaint

Recevied a 'Neither confirm nor deny' from the GCSB? Then it's time to complain to the Privacy Commissioner.

If you have received a response from the GCSB to your request under the Privacy Act that they will 'neither confirm nor deny' if they have any information about you, you may now want to follow up with a request to investigate with the Privacy Commissioner.

Following the revelations that the GCSB illegally spied on 88 people, the Privacy Commissioner encouraged people to come to her if they were unhappy with the response of the GCSB.

So here's what you can do:

By postal mail:

1. Make a copy of your original letter to the GCSB & a copy of their response.
2. Write a short cover note to the Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff asking her to investigate the matter on your behalf.
3. Send the two copies of the letters to Privacy Commisioner, PO Box 10-094, The Terrace, Wellington 6143.

By email:

1. Scan or photograph your response from the GCSB. Have your original request to the GCSB as an electronic file (word doc or pdf)
2. Write a short email to the Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff asking her to investigate the matter on your behalf.
3. Email the Privacy Commissioner at: enquiries@privacy.org.nz

We at OASIS would really like to know if you have received a response from the GCSB and if you are following up with the Privacy Commissioner. Please send us an email (oasisfromsurveillance@gmail.com) and let us know how you get on. Thanks!

Friday, July 5, 2013

OASIS blows the whistle on GCSB submissions

Media Release: OASIS blows the whistle on GCSB submissions
5 July 2013

Two members of OASIS (Organising Against State Intelligence and Surveillance) today dumped whistles on the desk at the Intelligence and Security Committee during the GCSB submissions saying that the people need whistle blowers because politicians are not listening.

The committee was chaired by Tony Ryall because John Key was absent for the duration of the hearings today.

“John Key has been telling us that the national security depends on this Bill and today he doesn’t even find it important enough to attend the committee hearings,” said spokesperson Anna Thorby.

“It just shows that he is not up to the job of minister in charge of security and intelligence”.

The government was intent on expanding the machinery of state surveillance at any cost. The only ways the invasive powers of the state come to light was when people working within the agencies blow the whistle on the growing surveillance state, the committee heard.

“Politicians sit there and spout words about democracy and transparency, but the only way to shed any light on the innards of the state agencies is through whistle blowers,” said Ms Thorby.

Members of the GCSB, SIS, NZ police, NZDF, other NZ agencies, and international intelligence agencies were asked by OASIS to become whistle-blowers and leak documents.

“Whistle-blowing and leaks will be needed more than ever when the GCSB Bill becomes law. We already know that the GCSB has acted illegally.”

“Over the past year the GCSB has been caught out spying illegally on a group of people: some of them, like Dotcom have been named but there are 88 others and the GCSB is refusing to tell people if they were victims of state crime,” said Ms Thorby. “And this Bill is not going to change any of that.”

“The call for reviews and investigations into the GCSB is pointless - the GCSB can simply refuse to co-operate with the Intelligence and Security Committee by saying that everything is an operational matter. The committee and the Inspector-General are explicitly unable to examine the operations of the GCSB.”

“We have had 12 years of the war on terrorism cravenly being used by politicians of all colours to advance the surveillance state. We do not consent to this surveillance, and this is not the world we want to live in.”

ENDS

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

John Key living on the spy-cloud

Prime Minister John Key gave an insight into his lack of understanding of the role of state agencies at the GCSB Bill hearings today. In his world, everything is a business and cost cutting is the only thing that matters.

On two occasions he likened giving the GCSB the power to spy on people on behalf of other agencies to the act of outsourcing a part of a business. He didn’t seem to have any awareness that spying on people is not just another business, but a highly intrusive act for which there must be clear rules and regulations. Any oversight regime headed by Key is likely to be a joke.

He also showed his arrogance towards submitters.

Key shamelessly used his position as Minister in charge of the GCSB to ridicule submitters. When several submitters stated that NZ had not been the target of terrorist activities since the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior, in each case he asked if they had any documents to prove that. Of course, no one except him and Ian Fletcher would be able to prove or disprove such a statement. 

In another rude comment, Key said after Kim Dotcom had finished his submission: “That’s it, we’re out of here,” ignoring the fact that several more submitters were scheduled to speak. However, his call was heeded by the raft of media who left the room with the star of the show.

There were 9 groups of submitters today and most spoke strongly against the Bill, stating that people had a right to privacy.

Two key points were made today. First, the assertion that meta-data (i.e. data about data, such as who spoke on the phone with whom for how long) was just as ‘valuable’ to spy agencies as the actual content of a conversation. Therefore there should be no distinction between the two as far as the need for warrants and regulations are concerned. A particular concern was that the Bill contained no definition of meta-data while the amount of information contained in meta-data was ever increasing. Today’s cell phone meta-data contains the exact location of both caller and receiver during the entire call – information which was not available ten years ago.

The second concern raised by a number of people was that there had been no cost analysis done on the benefit of ‘outsourcing’ spying jobs to the GCSB. The main reason behind the Bill is that it would be too costly to replicate the technical infrastructure of the GCSB for the SIS and the police and therefore the GCSB should be able to act for the SIS and other agencies. However, no figures are available as to how much the alleged cost savings are.

The hearings will continue on Friday, July 5 at 10am in Bowen House.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Media Release: GCSB Hearings a farce

From: OASIS - Organising Against State Intelligence and Surveillance
July 1, 2013

The Security and Intelligence Committee is missing the point when it hears submissions on the ‘GCSB and Related Legislation Amendment Bill’ this week, an anti-surveillance group says.

‘Organising Against State Intelligence and Surveillance’ (OASIS) is encouraging people to attend the public hearings, but the group says the main issues are not individual clauses with the Bill.

“Instead of arguing over the wording of the Bill, the members of the Security and Intelligence Committee should answer the question why they think NZ needs a spy agency that is a junior partner to the NSA,” a spokesperson for the group said today.

“The recently leaked documents, showing how the NSA and the GCHQ are continuously monitoring the communications of hundreds of millions of people worldwide, demonstrate the urgent need to seriously curtail state surveillance powers, not expand them.”

“The Kitteridge report found that the GCSB has been spying illegally on 88 people, and the government’s reaction to this is to pass a Bill under urgency that legalises that practice,” the spokesperson continued.

“People have the right to be left alone by the state. Instead, John Key is using the spectre of terrorism to scare people into giving up their rights. We never gave consent to a surveillance society.”

A recently published phone conversation with the former Inspector General of Security and Intelligence, during which he couldn’t remember the name of the GCSB’s director, shows the lack of seriousness this and previous governments have demonstrated in dealing with spy agencies.

“This clearly shows how slack the so-called oversight of the spy agencies is, and appointing a new Inspector General and giving them a deputy isn’t going to change that. While we encourage submitters to talk to the committee, we don’t hold our breath that any of the concerns raised will be taken seriously by the government,” the spokesperson said.

ENDS

The schedule of hearings can be found here. The hearings are in Room 2, Bowen House. 

Neazor fired

Yesterday, John Key announced in a brief press release that he has replaced Paul Neazor as the Inspector General of Security and Intelligence with Andrew McGechan, effective immediately. The statement does not say that Neazor resigned, nor does it give any reasons why he was replaced.

And while the media are full of stories about a ‘stand-off’ between Kim Dotcom and John Key during the committee hearings on Wednesday (5 pm), they hardly mention the unceremonious dumping of the person who has been in charge of overseeing the country’s spy agencies for ten years.

However, TV3 reports that Neazor’s replacement has no intention to review the 88 cases of illegal spying.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Responses to GCSB file requests

Many people have inquired with the GCSB whether they are one of the 88 people who have been illegally spied on and have asked for their files. The usual response from the GCSB has been to “neither confirm nor deny” that such files exist, stating section 27 of the Privacy Act. This section allows a government department to refuse this information if the “security or defence of New Zealand” or “the maintenance of the law” are at risk – the latter being a rather strange reason, given that it was the GCSB who broke the law.

In some cases the GCSB’s director, Ian Fletcher, also states that he has “conducted a thorough search” for the information requested, but refuses to reveal what the outcome of the search was.

We would be interested to know what responses people have received, especially if they were different from the one outlined above. Please email us at OasisFromSurveillance@gmail.com. Our PGP Key can be found here.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Phone Call with Paul Neazor - Only God Knows

In an off-the-cuff telephone conversation the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Paul Neazor, explains to a caller why he will not be told if he has been surveilled or not.

In a 'friendly' conversation Neazor explains about the 88 people surveilled and the rationale behind why everyone will get a response of 'neither confirm nor deny' when wanting to know if they are one of the 88.

In the ten minute audio clip Neazor discusses the role of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, talks about security issues in general and goes onto explain the mistake that led to the illegal spying of Dotcom. He asserts that Dotcom got residency in NZ through business connections and compares Dotcom to Julian Assange and Wikileaks.

Towards the end of the ten minute tape, Neazor forgets the name of the Director of the GCSB.

Neazor is arguably a goldmine of information, but it is not the only time he has forgotten 'important' things. In his 2011 annual report on the activities of the GCSB Neazor highlighted three occasions in which the GCSB  operated outside of their legal authority.

Questioned about that report in September 2012 by a TV3 journalist, Neazor could not recall it and quoted a Robert Browning poem.
 "Somebody asked Browning once what he meant by one of his poems and he said, ‘Only God and Browning knew what I meant and now only God knows,"said Neazor.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Submission hearings will be public

In a very unusual move, the Security and Intelligence Committee has decided to hear submissions in public. A number of submitters have been given speaking slots of ten minutes on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday of next week (July 2 – July 5).

Usually submissions are heard with only the five committee members and a number of unidentified members of the “Intelligence Community” being present. The opening of the process to the public is a sign that the government has realised that there is more opposition to the GCSB Bill than it anticipated.

Submissions for the GCSB sister bill, the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Bill (TICS) were heard today. The two bills must be seen in conjunction to get an idea of the magnitude of surveillance the government wants to legalise. An overview of the bill is here. For both bills, after the submissions are heard, they are likely to be made public on the parliamentary web site.

The Security and Intelligence Committee will report back to parliament on the GCSB Bill by July 26, the Law and Order Select Committee will report back on the TICS Bill on a later date.


Friday, June 14, 2013

Extension for submissions

The Security and Intelligence Committee announced today that the deadline for submissions on the GCSB Bill has been extended to Friday, 21 June 2013.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Making a submission on the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill


General Instructions
  1. Submissions are due Friday, 21 June 2013 (note this has been extended)
  2. Submissions must be emailed to GCSB.Bill@parliament.govt.nz. You may compose your submission in Word, or equivalent, and attach it or send it as part of your email.
  3. You can download a copy of the Bill from the Parliamentary Business 'Bills' page. (The Bill is 47 pages long.)
Format of your submission
There is no specific way that your submission, your actual submissions can be as general or specific as you wish but you must include your name and contact details. If you want to make an oral submission to the select committee you must state that specifically in your email. The submission should state whether you support or reject the bill.

Some ideas about why the Bill should be stopped:

There are several reasons why the Bill should be stopped, but some key concerns that you could point out include:
  1. The Bill is being passed through parliament under urgency – but there is no need for urgency.
    A. Like all Bills, this Bill should not be rushed through parliament.
    It was introduced as a result of findings in the Kitteridge Report that the GCSB had probably illegally spied on up to 88 people. However, a subsequent Neazor report (if we are to believe it) found that there had “been no breeches … “ so why is the urgency continued.
    Further, recent and on-going media coverage about the level of spying undertaken by the NSA show more than ever that there should be no expansion of the powers of the GCSB. At the least, the Bill should definitely no longer be introduced under urgency but rather run the normal length of time.
    B. The Crown Law's report on compliance of the Bill with section 7 of the Bill of Rights. The Crown Law's advice was that "the Bill raises questions in respect of the rights to freedom of expression, non-discrimination and against unreasonable search and seizure affirmed by ss 14, 19(1) and 21 of the Bill of Rights Act," but then went onto say that despite that, "the Bill appears consistent with that Act." This is further evidence that the Bill should not be passed in urgency.
    C. The Regulatory Impact Statement. The RIS states "The GCSB Act contains intrusive state powers. Consequently any review of the GCSB Act will involve the consideration of human rights and privacy matters. Respect for human rights, and individual privacy and traditions of free speech in New Zealand were guiding principles in undertaking the review and developing recommendations." These 'guiding principles' can not be given much thought when the Bill is being rushed through in urgency.
  2. The primary purpose of the proposed changes to the GCSB Act 2003 is to change the function of the GCSB. The GCSB was never intended to be a domestic spy agency but this Bill changes the function of the GCSB from that of the collection and analysis of 'foreign intelligence' to a role of national security. The SIS already exists to 'protect the economic well-being' and its functions and powers were expanded in an amendment to the SIS Act in 2011.
  3. Removing the word “foreign” from the Act. By removing the word foreign from the Act, the Bill allows precisely what the previous version expressly ruled out: that the GCSB can be used to spy on NZ citizens and residents.
  4. Expanding the power of the GCSB by 'co-operation with other entities to facilitate their functions '. Changes to Section 8 of the Bill enable the GCSB to spy on behalf of the New Zealand Police, Defence Force and the SIS, including other departments that may be specified by Order in Council. This section of the Bill also allows the GCSB to perform functions for these other agencies even if the activities were not allowed under the GCSB Act.
  5. The mass collection and retention of data to be shared with other agencies. Sections 15 and 25 allow for the GCSB to collect and store electronic communications for an unlimited time. This data can then be shared with the NZ police, the Defence Force, the SIS and 'any other person that the Director thinks fit to receive the information'.
  6. Oversight of the GCSB. The oversight regime is not adequate. At the least the GCSB should be required to produce an annual report documenting its surveillance, including how many requests were made by the various NZ agencies and the numbers of people affected.
  7. Abolish the GCSB. Above and beyond all the points raised above, the GCSB should be abolished. It primarily serves the interests of the USA and helps expand the network of surveillance maintained by Echelon and the UKUSA Agreement.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Neazor changing his mind

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Paul Neazor has arguably definitely changed his mind in the last eight months about the illegal spying of the GCSB.

In September 2012, he was asked by the Prime Minister to investigate the spying on Kim Dotcom. In his report, he came to the following conclusions:
The GCSB is controlled by its governing Act in what it may do. That Act makes it clear that the Bureau is intended to collect foreign intelligence only, but that includes the function of assisting the Police by gathering foreign intelligence for the purpose of preventing or detecting serious crime.
"Foreign intelligence only" and no mention of any ambiguity in the law, even when the GCSB is assisting the police. As far as consequences for the GCSB are concerned, he recommended: 
There will need to be alertness that … the wording of the provisions of the GCSB Act are controlling.
The result was a public apology by John Key: “Of course I apologise to Mr Dotcom, and I apologise to New Zealanders.” Key said he was “appalled” that the GCSB had “failed at the most basic of hurdles.”

All that has changed. Spying on Dotcom was failing a basic hurdle, but spying on 88 others was “arguably legal”. In September, the GCSB needed to learn that its Act was “controlling” – now the same Act is ambiguous and needs reform.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The arguably ambiguous GCSB Act

The Inspector-General of Security and Intelligence, Paul Neazor, yesterday finished his inquiry into the GCSB’s illegal spying on NZ residents and citizens. The report has not been made public, instead the GCSB issued a press release.

Whether this press release includes all findings of Neazor’s report, or whether the GCSB has filtered it to show only those findings that are favourable, is not known. It is also unclear whether the report will ever be made public. But according to the GCSB, Neazor “is of the view that there were arguably no breaches and the law is unclear.”

That seems difficult to comprehend – if the law is unclear, how can one come to the conclusion that  it wasn’t breached?

If the GCSB is correct in its summary of the report, this wouldn’t be the first time that Neazor has found that a NZ spy agency has done nothing wrong. In 2005, Neazor found that allegations published by Scoop and the Sunday Star Times that the SIS had been spying on the Maori party were without base, and he came to the conclusion that the papers had been duped.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Guide to applying to the GCSB for your file

Anyone who is interested in finding our whether they are one of the 88 people who have been spied on illegally by the GCSB since 2003 can write to them and request their information under the Privacy Act. Below is a basic letter template that can be copied:


Date

Government Communications Security Bureau
PO Box 12209
Thorndon
Wellington 6144


To whom it may concern:

REQUEST FOR INFORMATION UNDER THE PRIVACY ACT

Under the terms of the Privacy Act, I am requesting all information held by the GCSB about me.


Yours sincerely,

Name
Date of birth
Address (PO Box is OK)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

How the GCSB's illegal spying got exposed

Currently, there are new laws before parliament that will allow the GCSB to do what it was previously not allowed to do - to spy on NZers. Below is some background information.  

Operation Debut
When on January 20, 2012 the police operation “Debut” descended on Kim Dotcom’s modest cottage in Coatesville, his communications had been intercepted for some time. The subsequent court hearings revealed that it wasn’t the police who had done the spying, but another, unnamed agency.

In September, it became clear that the GCSB, NZ’s foreign spy agency, had been involved in the spying on Dotcom. His lawyers argued that this had been illegal, because the GCSB Act of 2003 clearly states that the GCSB is not allowed to spy on NZ citizens and residents. Dotcom was a NZ resident at the time, but the GCSB claims that his residence status at the time wasn’t clear.
As a result, John Key – as the Minister in charge – asked the Inspector-General of Security and Intelligence (IGSI), Paul Neazor, to compile a report into the matter. Neazor came to the conclusion that the police and the GCSB had been confused about Dotcom’s residence status and had therefore unwillingly acted illegally. Neazor did not think the GCSB Act was ambiguous, in fact he recommended that the GCSB should be alerted to the fact that “the wording of the provisions of the GCSB Act are controlling”. As a result, Key apologised “to Mr Dotcom, and … to New Zealanders.”

The Kitteridge Report
Also in September, the government commissioned Rebecca Kitteridge to review the GCSB’s handling of the matter. Her report, published in March 2013, is damning. It reveals that since 2003, the GCSB had spied illegally on 88 other NZ residents or citizens, in most cases at the request of the SIS.

The report found that the GCSB has no policies and procedures in place to check if what it does complies with the law. Its part-time legal advisor for 15 years, Hugh Wolfensohn, hardly ever asked for advice from the Crown Law Office. No one ever analysed if the GCSB was affected by other legislation or if the use of new surveillance technology was within the law. There was essentially no record keeping. One of the most worrying aspects is that the GCSB seems to have signed international treaties without the government knowing.

Kitterridge attributes that to an ambiguous law, underfunding, a lack of management structure and a lack of oversight, and she assumes that the GCSB would like nothing more than to change that. This seems a little naïve and it misses a key point. It is quite possible that the GCSB was quite happy with not having the resources to check legal issues. And it is precisely the secretive nature in which the GCSB and the SIS operate that breeds a culture of “we can do what we want”.

Usually, the minister in charge is held responsible for the actions of their department – but not so in this case. John Key, as the Minister for Intelligence and Security, has not accepted responsibility for the GCSB débâcle, nor have Labour or the Greens called for that.


New laws
Instead, the government has responded with the “GCSB and Related Legislation Amendment Bill”, which passed its first reading under urgency on May 8. (The  regulatory impact statement for the Bill was written on 22 March).  Its main change to the GCSB Act consist of removing the word “foreign” from the Act in order to allow precisely what the previous version expressly ruled out: that the GCSB can be used to spy on NZ citizens and residents. One of the roles of the GCSB is to assist the SIS and the Police, the argument being that not doing so would mean that expensive surveillance equipment would have to be duplicated across the agencies and that would be inefficient. Therefore the GCSB should be able to spy on NZers when assisting other agencies. Human rights are compromised in the name of efficiency – an extremely dangerous thing to do.

Other changes in the Bill are that the Inspector-General of Security and Intelligence will get a deputy (until now, the 79-year-old he has been all by himself) and can now conduct random checks with the GCSB. This falls considerably short of the recommendation of the Kitterridge report, which asked for a structure similar to that in Australia, which as 12 staff.

Another planned change is to the Telecommunications Interception Capabilities Act. The definition of a ‘telecommunications provider’ is supposed to be widened to include so-called “over-the-top” services, such as Skype. The government argues that because Skype enables people to have phone conversations, it must be subject to the same rules as other organisations that provide phone services. Consequently the state wants to be able bug Skype conversations in the same way it can bug regular phone calls.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Submissions on the GCSB Bill

The government’s reaction to the damning report about the GCSB by Rebecca Kitteridge was to introduce the “GCSB and Related Legislation Amendment Bill”. It passed its first reading under urgency on May 8, 2013.

Its main change to the GCSB Act consist of removing the word “foreign” from the Act in order to allow precisely what the previous version expressly ruled out: that the GCSB can be used to spy on NZ citizens and residents. One of the roles of the GCSB is to assist the SIS and the Police, the argument being that not doing so would mean that expensive surveillance equipment would have to be duplicated across the agencies and that would be inefficient. Therefore the GCSB should be able to spy on NZers when assisting other agencies. Human rights are being violated in the name of efficiency – an extremely dangerous thing to do.

Other changes in the Bill are that the Inspector-General of Security and Intelligence will get a deputy (so far he has been all by himself) and can now conduct random checks with the GCSB. This falls considerably short of the recommendation of the Kitterridge report, which asked for a structure similar to that in Australia, which has 12 staff.

Below is the official blurb about the GCSB Bill. Submissions can be made to the Intelligence and Security Committee at GCSB.Bill@parliament.govt.nz by Thursday, 13 June 2013.

Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill

The bill is an omnibus bill that proposes amendments to the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Act 1996, and the Intelligence and Security Committee Act 1996. The purposes of the bill are to make clear the statutory framework governing the activities of the GCSB and to enhance the external mechanisms for the oversight of the New Zealand's intelligence agencies. The Intelligence and Security Committee is inviting submissions on the bill. The closing date for submissions is Thursday, 13 June 2013. A copy of the bill and the regulatory impact statement can be accessed from the downloads panel on this page. Submissions can be emailed to GCSB.Bill@parliament.govt.nz. If you wish to appear before the committee, state this clearly and provide a name, daytime phone number, and email address. Submissions will generally be made public. The committee is required to report to the House on this bill by 26 July 2013.

The Bill can be downloaded here.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

GCSB & the lives of others: Public meeting

Public meeting on the surveillance by the GCSB

You are warmly invited to a public meeting on Monday, May 27 at 6pm at the Mezzanine Meeting room of the Wellington Central Library to discuss the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), the illegal surveillance it conducted, the law change being made to legalise its unlawful activities and the role of the GCSB in the US global surveillance network.

Speakers:
Nicky Hager - author of the book Secret Power which exposed the secrecy of the GCSB
Keith Locke - who has been spied on by the state since he was 10 years old
Michael Bott - member of the NZ Council for Civil Liberties