New Zealand to change spy laws after Dotcom bungle

May 6, 2013
Internet tycoon Kim Dotcom is pictured during a press conference at his Auckland mansion on January 20, 2013. New Zealand unveiled plans Monday to allow its foreign intelligence agency to spy on local residents, to fill a loophole exposed when Dotcom was illegally snooped upon.

New Zealand unveiled plans Monday to allow its foreign intelligence agency to spy on local residents, to fill a loophole exposed when Internet tycoon Kim Dotcom was illegally snooped upon.

Prime Minister John Key said the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) needed additional powers because the challenges facing intelligence agencies had changed enormously in the past decade.

"In large part, this is due to the rapid evolution of technology in areas like cyber-security and the threat of ," he said.

"It's vital that legislation in this area is fit for purpose and keeps pace with changes in the , while also safeguarding the rights of law-abiding New Zealanders."

Existing legislation says the GCSB is supposed to focus on foreign intelligence and , explicitly forbidding it from spying on New Zealand citizens or residents.

But it was revealed last year that it spied on Dotcom, a German national with New Zealand residency, before armed police raided his Auckland mansion in January 2012 and arrested him for online piracy.

Key issued a public apology to Dotcom and a subsequent inquiry released last month found another 88 New Zealand citizens or residents may have been illegally spied on. Details of the cases were not released.

Under reforms to be introduced to parliament this week, the GCSB will be able to spy on New Zealanders provided it receives permission from Key, who holds ministerial responsibility for the agency.

Dotcom has received clearance from the New Zealand courts to attempt to sue the GCSB and police, alleging wrongful arrest.

The opposition Labour Party said extending the GCSB's powers was a "band aid" solution that did nothing to address a lack of oversight which had shaken the public's trust in .

"The state should not extend its powers to spy on citizens lightly... (John Key) is asking New Zealanders to trust him to personally to decide who can be spied on, despite his record of lax oversight of the GCSB," Labour leader David Shearer said.

Dotcom, 39, was arrested by New Zealand authorities cooperating with a massive US probe into online piracy.

US authorities allege his Megaupload and related file-sharing sites netted more than US$175 million and cost copyright owners more than US$500 million by offering pirated copies of movies, TV shows and other content.

Dotcom, who changed his name from Kim Schmitz, denies any wrongdoing and is free on bail in New Zealand ahead of an extradition hearing scheduled in August.

Explore further: Decision due in Megaupload founder's N.Z. bail bid

Related Stories

Decision due in Megaupload founder's N.Z. bail bid

January 24, 2012

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom is set to learn Wednesday if he will remain behind bars in New Zealand while US authorities seek his extradition on allegations of massive copyright theft.

Megaupload N. Zealand extradition case delayed

July 10, 2012

Megaupload boss Kim Dotcom's extradition case against US authorities has been delayed until next year amid legal wrangling in New Zealand over evidence disclosure, his lawyers said Tuesday.

NZ PM apologises to Dotcom for spy bungle

September 27, 2012

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key apologised Thursday to Internet tycoon Kim Dotcom over an "unacceptable" bungle by government spies leading up to the arrest of the Megaupload boss.

Megaupload New Zealand extradition case delayed again

December 20, 2012

A US bid to extradite Megaupload boss Kim Dotcom from New Zealand for alleged online piracy has been delayed for a second time and will not be heard until August next year, his lawyers said Thursday.

NZ court backs Dotcom's right to sue spy agency

March 7, 2013

An appeal court Thursday backed Megaupload boss Kim Dotcom's right to sue New Zealand's foreign intelligence agency for illegally spying on him as part of a US probe into alleged online piracy.

Recommended for you

World is embracing clean energy, professor says

February 1, 2016

Renewable, energy efficient and flexible electricity sources are being adopted by policy makers and investors across the globe and this is sign of optimism in the battle against climate change, a University of Exeter energy ...

Battery technology could charge up water desalination

February 4, 2016

The technology that charges batteries for electronic devices could provide fresh water from salty seas, says a new study by University of Illinois engineers. Electricity running through a salt water-filled battery draws the ...

Researchers find vulnerability in two-factor authentication

February 3, 2016

Two-factor authentication is a computer security measure used by major online service providers to protect the identify of users in the event of a password loss. The process is familiar: When a password is forgotten, the ...

World's first 'robot run' farm to open in Japan

February 1, 2016

A Japanese firm said Monday it would open the world's first fully automated farm with robots handling almost every step of the process, from watering seedlings to harvesting crops.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Sean_W
5 / 5 (1) May 06, 2013
We're sorry we illegally spied on you and we're going to change the laws to make it legal to spy on you. It will be great; you'll love it.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.