New Zealand passes law allowing domestic spying

Aug 21, 2013
Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom speaks at Bowen House in Wellington on July 3, 2013 as lawmakers examine a controversial proposal allowing intelligence agencies to spy on local residents. New Zealand passed legislation Wednesday allowing its main intelligence agency to spy on residents and citizens, despite opposition from rights groups, international technology giants and the legal fraternity.

New Zealand passed legislation Wednesday allowing its main intelligence agency to spy on residents and citizens, despite opposition from rights groups, international technology giants and the legal fraternity.

The bill to expand the power of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) passed by 61 votes to 59 after impassioned debate, with Prime Minister John Key acknowledging the move had left some people "agitated and alarmed".

"This is not, and never will be, about wholesale spying on New Zealanders," Key told parliament.

"There are threats our government needs to protect New Zealanders from, those threats are real and ever-present and we underestimate them at our peril."

The push to change the law came after it emerged last year that the GCSB illegally spied on Internet tycoon Kim Dotcom before armed police raided his Auckland mansion as part of a US-led probe into online piracy.

At the time Key publicly apologised to Dotcom, who is a New Zealand resident and should have been off-limits to the GCSB under legislation preventing it from snooping on locals.

However, an official report found that Dotcom's case was only one of dozens in which the GCSB had overstepped its bounds.

Key then moved to change the law to let the GCSB spy on New Zealanders, arguing it needed to cooperate more closely with agencies such as the police and military in an increasingly complex cyber-security environment.

Dotcom has been one of the strongest opponents of the bill, saying it gives government spies legal access to New Zealanders' electronic communications, including mobile phone calls.

"This will be the birth of a surveillance state in New Zealand," he told a protest meeting in Auckland last weekend.

Tech giants such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft have also voiced concern about expanding the GCSB's surveillance powers.

"Blanket rules requiring and accessibility are blunt tools, which have the potential to infringe on and constrain economic growth," Facebook said in a submission to a parliamentary committee reviewing the bill.

New Zealand's Law Society, Human Rights Commission and Privacy Commission all made submissions raising concerns about the bill and calling for significant changes.

Explore further: Kim Dotcom and New Zealand PM to face off over spy laws

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Kim Dotcom and New Zealand PM to face off over spy laws

Jul 02, 2013

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key are set to come face to face for the first time Wednesday as lawmakers examine a controversial proposal allowing intelligence agencies ...

Hackers attack New Zealand PM's website

Jul 30, 2013

The "hacktivist" group Anonymous on Tuesday briefly crashed New Zealand Prime Minister John Key's website in protest at plans to allow the country's intelligence agency to spy on local residents.

New Zealand to change spy laws after Dotcom bungle

May 06, 2013

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.

NZ court backs Dotcom's right to sue spy agency

Mar 07, 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.

NZ PM apologises to Dotcom for spy bungle

Sep 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.

Recommended for you

Net neutrality balancing act

9 hours ago

Researchers in Italy, writing in the International Journal of Technology, Policy and Management have demonstrated that net neutrality benefits content creator and consumers without compromising provider innovation nor pr ...

Twitter rules out Turkey office amid tax row

Apr 16, 2014

Social networking company Twitter on Wednesday rejected demands from the Turkish government to open an office there, following accusations of tax evasion and a two-week ban on the service.

How does false information spread online?

Apr 16, 2014

Last summer the World Economic Forum (WEF) invited its 1,500 council members to identify top trends facing the world, including what should be done about them. The WEF consists of 80 councils covering a wide range of issues including social media. Members come ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Claudius
1 / 5 (3) Aug 21, 2013
New Zealand passed legislation Wednesday allowing its main intelligence agency to spy on residents and citizens, despite opposition


Shameful

More news stories

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Researchers discover target for treating dengue fever

Two recent papers by a University of Colorado School of Medicine researcher and colleagues may help scientists develop treatments or vaccines for Dengue fever, West Nile virus, Yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis and other ...