Submission on New Zealand Intelligence and Security Bill – 3 November 2016
We have been concerned year on year with the extension of powers and resources to our spy agencies the SIS and GCSB. This latest extension of power to spy on New Zealanders is another savage blow to freedom and privacy by an obsessive, intrusive, controlling state.
Submission re this bill:
The bill purports to keep New Zealanders safe and secure from the likes of ISIS. However we are potential targets for terrorist groups only because we are aligned with the United States and its foreign policy. We would be much safer and more secure at home and abroad were we to adopt an independent foreign policy.
The extension of power to the GCSB to legally spy on New Zealanders is unacceptable. The GCSB has already been caught out illegally spying on at least 88 New Zealanders under existing legislation. This occurred despite the public being explicitly told, and the legislation specifically prohibiting, such activity.
The so-called “triple-lock warrant” will become a triplicate rubber stamp. When decisions are made in secret, without public oversight or scrutiny then abuses are inevitable and civil rights and democracy are the losers.
We don’t accept the explanation that the current legislation is unclear or “confusing” as the Prime Minister claims. If that had been the case the GCSB would have sought clarification or requested amended legislation from the government. They did neither. The only logical conclusion is that they wanted to continue to illegally spy on New Zealanders alongside their critical role of assisting the US National Security Agency to take all New Zealanders’ electronic data for mass storage and retrospective spying.
It is unacceptable that the definition of threats to “national security” in this bill covers any form of civil disobedience protest action. Social progress has never been made without unlawful actions such as those undertaken by the suffragettes, anti-apartheid protestors, some animal welfare actions, anti-nuclear protests on our harbours etc. To include these activities as potential “threats to national security” is a chilling “big brother” approach to dissent which is unacceptable in a democracy.
Likewise the limitation on collecting intelligence within New Zealand to exempt “lawful advocacy, protest or dissent” is close to meaningless because inclusion of the word lawful underlines that any civil disobedience protest action will not be exempt from the predations of the state on privacy and freedom of speech.
Our first recommendation is that New Zealand develops an independent foreign policy which would involve withdrawing from the so-called “five eyes” international spy network. At the moment we are tied into US global economic and security arrangements and are therefore seen as complicit with US imperialist ambitions and all that this entails. This puts New Zealanders at greater security risk at home and abroad.
An independent foreign policy would provide the best safeguard for the security and safety of New Zealanders.
Our second recommendation is that the GCSB and SIS be abolished and their genuine security functions be taken over by the police under strong parliamentary oversight.
We would like to be heard by the committee.