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GCSB’s functions being dramatically widened not clarified

8 May 2013

GCSB’s functions being dramatically widened not clarified

The GCSB bill makes changes that expand its powers to allow invasive spying into the lives of New Zealanders and are not simply a clarification as John Key claims, the Green Party said today.

National is rushing through its new Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill under urgency.

“John Key is letting GCSB spies expand their powers dramatically under the guise of fixing a problem,” Green Party Co-leader Russel Norman said.

The public was previously promised that the GCSB would not spy on New Zealanders and that when the GCSB helped other agencies it was to protect those agencies' communications and infrastructure. The new bill opens up the surveillance powers of the GCSB to be used by domestic agencies against New Zealand people.

“It’s a huge leap in intrusive powers,” Dr Norman said.

“John Key is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of New Zealanders by portraying this fundamental expansion of powers as a clarification.

“I expect the Prime Minister of New Zealand to put the interests of his citizens above all else but he is simply rubber stamping changes that suit the spy agency.

“It is ridiculous that because the GCSB was caught spying illegally on New Zealanders that the law is being changed to allow them to continue doing that.

“The SIS can bug phones and the police can monitor emails now. The GCSB’s powers – intended to target international threats – do not need to be turned on us.

“The GCSB acts as part of an international network of spies, it was given its powers to defend New Zealanders not act against them.

“There is no justification for this expansion of powers other than the GCSB was breaking the law. The Green Party will be voting against this insidious law change.

“The minor improvements to oversight do not address the fundamental problems. We are being asked to support legislation without being allowed to ask any questions about how the GCSB works operationally,” Dr Norman said.

The Green Party has called for better oversight of GCSB with policy that a regular parliamentary select committee replace the government-dominated Intelligence and Security Committee, and the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security becomes an Officer of Parliament.

ENDS

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