Calling for a GCSB debate



Toronto has just hosted a fascinating debate this weekend.  The motion “That state surveillance is a legitimate defence of our freedoms”.

For the motion was former NSA and CIA head Michael Hayden and Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz.

Against the motion was Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and the journalist who broke the Snowden leak, Glenn Greenwald.

The result:  an intelligent, informed, and robust discussion of differing views.

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We need this in New Zealand.  In the push to pass the GCSB legislation in 2013 we heard plenty of speakers and arguments against the legislation.

What was the response to those arguments?

  1. If you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear.
  2. You can trust the PM – he’ll carefully watch over surveillance requests.
  3. There are people with terrorism links in New Zealand.

None of those responses give me comfort.  Nor do I truly understand the basis for extended surveillance powers beyond superficial assertion.  I would like to understand the counter arguments.  I would like to know why we are enabling state surveillance rather than restricting it.

What is the evidence and the facts behind the need to infringe the right to privacy?  Isn’t this about finding a balance?  How do we ascertain that balance without knowing the arguments?  What are the good reasons behind state surveillance?  How does this system protect citizens in the future?  What are the advantages to New Zealand in being part of the Five Eyes network?  How does protecting our economic interests inform any state surveillance?

I do not understand why we are not, as a society, demanding this discussion.  These issues are fundamental.

Or, am I wrong?  Is this Orwellian adventure simply the price of living in this modern world?

I am calling for a GCSB debate.  Let’s have informed speakers on both sides bring their best arguments to an open, public forum.  If they can do it in Toronto featuring those intimately aware and informed of these issues, why can’t we do it in New Zealand?

I mean, isn’t that what living in a democracy is about?

The Toronto debate is available online and is fascinating.  You can access the video here.  Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the debate video.  The debate begins proper at the 29 minute mark.

So, how about a debate?


    • Not a bad question. Got any suggestions, Gosman? But do you agree with the call for a debates?

    • Gosman – feel free to volunteer.

      But take note; if you try to debate by asking constant whining questions instead of making your own point, you’ll be laughed out of the hall.

    • A good call!

      I too would like to know ” . . . . . why we are enabling state surveillance rather than restricting it . . . .”

      Seems to me that it was all about enabling the “Five i’s” network, after a rash promise that JK made to Obama on the golf course (a promise that was made, I believe, without bothering to consult the NZ public back home).

      But I’m only guessing – I don’t have access to NZ/USA state surveillance records (unlike some).

  1. I think one of the dangers of living within a democracy is that one can become spoiled for choice and the ensuing confusion allows parasites to proliferate .

    Watch this . Draw parallels . Ed Yong .

    The other problem facing NZ’ers is that we’re just far too lucky and our country is far too pretty and fertile to remain a secret forever . Sooner of later some bigger cat is going to have a go at taking it for themselves . As Global warming becomes a grim reality and famine , water shortages and in some cases , population displacement become a haunting spectre we’re going to be focused upon . Already are being focused upon if Chinese immigration stats are anything to go by .
    ( Personally , I don’t think it’s rich Chinese we need to worry about . I think the Israelis are the ones to keep an eye on . )
    Paranoia drives the GCSB . And the more they know , the more they become justifiably paranoid . Paranoia and anxiety are great selling tools .

    “ Is this Orwellian adventure simply the price of living in this modern world? “

    Yes , I’m afraid it might be .

    @ Gosman . I’d be asking arch neoliberal Alan Gibbs to the debate . If I’d become rich from swindling the public purse while aided and abetted by corrupt politicians I’d certainly want to know just what the beastly hoi polloi were up to . They might come and bend me art works mate .

  2. If you watch the debate you’ll see the:

    Former NSA guy say “Trust us” despite it having been proven that the NSA have lied repeatedly.

    “Civil Liberties” guy (although if you check his background out you’ll find he advocates collective punishment of Palestinians for attacks on Israel) say the system is broken but stick with it and try to improve it from within while it tramples your civil liberties.

    Tech guy say the NSA have broken the Internet and this is bad. (Man this guy is a crappy debater)

    Glenn Greenwald was pretty much the only guy who could give specifics and evidence to back up his points and more or less carried the debate by himself.

    Also, make sure you watch the Snowdon video in full because it implicates one of the debaters with a new leak. They clipped that out of the bit they showed in the debate.

  3. The US used NZ as its’ testing ground for its’ spy equipment.
    All NZ was spied on (as a part of the test) for a period of 2 years.
    Then the US went away.
    Now we have the current situation.

    How come the Aussie public knew about this before we did?

    Belief and opinion.

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