Member’s Bill to to insert checks and balance into spy bill
Communications and IT Spokesperson
23rd October 2013 MEDIA STATEMENT
Member’s Bill would insert a checks and balance measure into controversial spy bill
The lack of checks and balances in the two spy bills pushed through under the National Government have left New Zealanders without the crucial independent oversight to ensure that surveillance laws are not being used wrongly, Labour said today.
As a result, Labour’s associate ICT spokesperson Clare Curran has introduced an amendment to one of the spy bills which creates a Technical Advisory Board to act as a buffer against the GCSB and a Government minister exercising surveillance powers with no independent scrutiny or accountability.
The amendment to the controversial Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Bill (TICS Bill) has been introduced as a private member’s bill and establishes a Technical Advisory Board to which matters must be referred in instances where the Minister will be required to exercise his or her discretion or prescribe an additional area of specified security interest.
“Labour has vigorously opposed the TICs Bill and its companion GCSB Bill as authoritarian and intruding on privacy and civil rights, while limiting internet freedom. One of the serious concerns around the Bill is that it will create a chilling effect on NZ tech companies as the powers for surveillance agencies to interfere in business decisions are too broad and the compliance regime to rigid and secretive.
“This Bill provide expertise to assist the Minister and assure New Zealanders that relevant information is being considered where critical decisions are being made about network security and consideration of proposed mitigations.
“The Bill will require any matter which will be referred to the Minister requesting they exercise their discretion or recommend prescribing an additional area of specified security interest the matter to first be referred to the Technical Advisory Board for analysis and recommendations.
“The Technical Advisory Board will comprise equal representatives from government and the industry, with an independent chair.
“New Zealanders must be reassured that measures to ensure the security of our public and our private sector entities are balanced by measures to protect their privacy.
The mark of a mature democracy is to commit to both and to always strive to achieve a balance, Clare Curran said.
“Unfortunately, the TICs Bill along with its companion bill, the Government Communications Security Bureau Bill, tips that balance away from citizens’ privacy and the critical checks and balances that New Zealanders expect and deserve in legislation.
“The creation of an independent board with technical knowledge and expertise is widely supported by the telecommunications industry, internet and civil society organisations.
“It will go some way to mitigate the extraordinary powers which the GCSB and Ministers can exercise in compelling telecommunication firms to assist intelligence agencies in intercepting and decrypting phone calls, texts and emails,” Clare Curran said.