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InternetNZ files GCSB submission. Privacy impact #1 concern.

InternetNZ files GCSB submission. Privacy impact number one concern.

Media release – 24 June 2013

This release is available online at

InternetNZ (Internet New Zealand Inc) last week filed a submission on the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill (GCSB Bill).

The submission notes that the intent of the Bill to support a strong cybersecurity regime is good. At the same time, the way the Bill would ride roughshod over Internet users’ privacy was a major concern. The submission recommends that the Intelligence and Security Committee give further attention to the dearth of checks and balances in the Bill in order protect the fundamental right to privacy online.

InternetNZ Acting Chief Executive Jordan Carter says that “More robust checks and balances need to be introduced so that Internet users' privacy is adequately protected from intrusive State action. As it stands, the GCSB Bill lacks sufficient legal safeguards for Internet users' right to privacy.”

The Bill effectively provides the Minister with unbridled power to direct the GCSB to intercept communications both foreign and domestic, and to access information infrastructures. The Minister would be able to do this without independent oversight. InternetNZ suggests that an independent third party such as a judge should be involved in the issuance of a warrant to intercept communications or access information infrastructures. This is one example of a safeguard that, if added, would vastly improve the Bill.

“This is a question of balance between the important objectives of the GCSB and peoples’ fundamental rights. InternetNZ does not consider the Bill to have adequately struck that balance. Further, while the governments’ capability to intercept communications has advanced under the Internet, it appears that the development and application of human rights law by governments to this changed environment has not. This Bill is the opportunity to set an example for other States in this area, but in this regard and with the current language of the Bill we are missing that opportunity,” says Carter.

Carter adds that while the GCSB Bill has the potential to support the development of the Internet economy in New Zealand, the current draft instead risks harming its prospects.

People need to feel secure online to take up the benefits the Internet can offer in improved productivity and lower costs. Strong privacy protections and an institutional framework that respects people's rights are important for future economic success.

If people do not feel secure because the law provides the state expansive surveillance powers, they are more likely to use technology to disguise their location, encrypt their data, or otherwise mask their behaviour online.

As citizens move to adopt various anonymising and encrypting technologies, the Internet network in New Zealand will experience a number of negative effects. In one example, the ability for ISPs to compress traffic will be reduced - making network links more congested.

“These consequences will mean that in a time when we are attempting to ensure that the Internet provides the maximum performance in order to enable economic growth within New Zealand, the citizens of the country will be deploying mechanisms which will result in the Internet operates at a much slower speed,” says Carter.


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