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RIP Privacy, Big Brother Is Bugging You

RIP Privacy
Big Brother Is Bugging You
Public Meeting To Oppose Swain Bill

The Crimes Amendment Bill will allow police and security services to snoop into any of our emails.

A PUBLIC MEETING is being held at 7.30p.m. on Friday 23rd February at the METHODIST CENTRAL MISSION HALL 370 Queen Street, Auckland (opposite Town Hall)

SPEAKERS Keith Locke, Green MP Tim McBride, Chair of the Auckland Council for Civil Liberties Alan Marston, of internet service provider PlaNet

Learn more about the Bill and the British (R.I.P.) and American (Carnivore) systems on which this proposal is based.

Discuss what we can do to prevent such a system in New Zealand.

Background: The Government proposes to pass the Crimes Amendment (No. 6) Bill this year. Better known as the Swain Bill, after Paul Swain, the Minister pushing it, this proposed law change contains clauses outlawing computer hacking. Sounds laudable doesn¹t it? But a Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) to that Bill specifically exempts the Police, and NZ¹s two intelligence agencies ­ the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) and the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB, which runs the Waihopai satellite interception spybase). What does that mean?

It means that the Government is giving the Police, SIS and GCSB expanded powers to intercept and spy on New Zealanders¹ electronic communications ­ your e-mail, in other words. The Bill forces Internet Service Providers to cooperate with this spying. This is part of a worldwide drive, spearheaded by the US, to impose ³global standards² on electronic spying. The N.Z. Bill is based on Britain¹s draconian R.I.P. (Regulation of Investigatory Powers) Act, which passed in 2000. The GCSB already spies on international electronic communications ­ now it will have the power to spy on domestic ones.

The Bill and its SOP were rushed through over summer ­ submissions closed on February 9th, though late submissions are still being received. The Government says that this is essential to fight crime, that ³the innocent have nothing to fear². We say ­ We¹ve heard that one before! Come and find out more.

For more information contact: Graeme Easte, Committee to Stop Email Snooping email: pastfinders@clear.net.nz, ph/fx (09) 376-5901

Brief Fact sheet on E-mail snooping Bill

Name: Supplementary Order Paper 85 (SOP 85) of the Crimes Amendment Bill (No 6).

Where is it at: It is in the Law and Order Select Committee of the Parliament with public submissions due by February 9. The committee has a report back date of May 31.

What SOP 85 does: makes illegal both computer hacking and interception of electronic communications (emails, faxes and pager messages). Allows the police, Security Intelligence Service (SIS) and Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) to intercept electronic communications, subject to certain procedures and conditions.

General response Most people support hacking and interception being illegal, but there is significant concern in the community about giving the police, SIS and GCSB these powers.

Government’s main arguments for giving these powers to police, SIS and GCSB That criminals communicate electronically, and these powers will enable them to catch more criminals. That we are just extending to these agencies the powers they already have to open letters and tap telephones.

Main opposition arguments against giving these powers These powers are a major intrusion on people’s privacy, which outweighs the benefit of catching more criminals. There is no proof that many more criminals will be caught. Criminals can easily evade the system by using untraceable email addresses (eg hotmail addresses), encryption, words that hide their criminal intent, and re-routing systems that don’t go through normal internet service providers. The police and intelligence service powers can be misused, as they have been in the past. The interceptions can be used by the authorities for economic spying or political spying on dissenters. Computer technology is such that electronic interception can take place on a vastly greater scale than mail or telephone interception. The ease with which serious criminals can evade being intercepted tends to lead to massive driftnet systems where millions of communications are trawled for ìkey wordsî, such as the FBI’s planned Carnivore system in the United States. This results in the interception of the communications of thousands people who innocently used those key words. Because people receive emails from many people and organisations, the targetting of any one person or organisation will automatically mean that the emails of many innocent people and organisations will be intercepted. Hacking into people’s computers will be a major intrusion of their privacy, because a variety of personal information is contained on their computer. A major reason for this legislation being introduced is not whether New Zealand needs it, but pressure from US agencies like the FBI and National Security Agency for New Zealand to fall into line with them.

How will the interception take place The government won’t say, but says this will be determined in a later bill, amending the Telecommunications Act. How can we really know the implications of the SOP 85 if we don’t know the means the police and intelligence agencies will be authorised to use?

How adequate are the controls on the powers to intercept? Police and the SIS have to obtain interception warrants. However, the warrants can be quite broad in their application and cover a class of people. The controls on police and SIS surveillance are far from adequate, as shown by the recent successful law suits by two dissenters, Aziz Choudry against the SIS, and David Small against the police. The Government Communications Security Bureau is not restrained by warrant, or even comprehensive legislation governing its activities.

Benefits to our computer systems remaining surveillance-free The privacy of people and organisations. Less restraint on dissenting views being exchanged via email and the internet. Better e-commerce with less spying on firms and their customers. Not placing on internet service providers the burden of compliance costs in enabling police and intelligence agency to conduct the interception of messages.

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