Waatea News Column – A Mass surveillance response would be unacceptable



There are already murmurs being made that the GCSB, SIS and Police need mass surveillance powers to combat the extremism that erupted so violently towards Muslims in Christchurch last week.

I think that would beIt would be an unacceptable response to this atrocity.

The Police, SIS & GCSB have the tools to monitor threats, they just didn’t see white supremacy as that threat.

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What we need are security agencies monitoring and quantifying the threat of violent white supremacy with a view to intervene to protect the wider community using the mass surveillance powers they currently have.

If that requires more funding so those agencies have better intelligence from agents in the field, so be it.

What we don’t need are the Police, SIS & GCSB gaining real time live surveillance of everything.

No one is made safe having that level of power.

Losing our civil rights to combat extremism when the State has the tools but not the will to target the actual terrorist threat is not an outcome any of us would consider just.


First published on Waatea News.


  1. I can’t believe that the GCSB/security services/police didn’t have tabs on the Christchurch shooter considering his online presence and manifesto, purchase of semi-automatic weapon (that included a police interview?) and trips to numerous European countries (plus Israel??) to visit, presumably, other ultra-right-wing white supremacists. The problem was probably one of failing to join up the dots (“need to know” ?) and acting on the intel. More shock therapy (cf Naomi Klein) for NZ through more surveillance, more armed police, more fear etc etc.

  2. If Mr Little asks the Secret Service why they weren’t keeping an eye on supremacists, and the Secret Service tells Mr Little to go and speak to their extreme rightwing division – would Mr Little think that the extreme rightwing division investigates rightwing extremism, or that it’s staffed by people extremely rightwing? Those the Secret Service has targeted, are whom match the Secret Service’s own prejudice, like requiring the weather to match their clothing – since both directors of the Secret Service are rather white.

    Who watches the watchers, to keep an eye out for the burgeoning of any far right ideology? What happens when a politician happens to know someone in the Secret Service? Could this not give that politician an unfair conduit of information? I’m thinking of Mr Mitchell and Mr Bishop here, and also the 2011 political hit on Mr Goff which the Secret Service partook in, and the suspiciously quick release of OIA information from the Secret Service to a now bankrupt blogger.

    And that’s just what’s come to Public attention, but what if some of the dinosaurs in the secret service have unknown links to other shady characters? Who will ever find out? Or something as mundane as a member of the secret service having a dispute with their suburban neighbor – wouldn’t the temptation to utilize omnipotent 5eyes immense surveillance powers at their day job, to delve into their neighbor’s background, be too much to resist?

    Page 6 of the terrorists manifesto, even mentions support for extreme ideology within law enforcement. Will the Police dare question the terrorist about that part of his manifesto? If there are already Police with affiliation to supremacists, then Police won’t even need to plant people in those groups, because they’ll already be there. Police were prompt to expend resources on animal rights activists, but I don’t remember any of those activists picking up a machine gun, yet Police can grant a gun license to a newly arrived non citizen who posts on 8chan.

    It’s time for Mr Little and the Royal Commission to give greater powers, and tools, and resources, and staff, and funding, and enforcement, to the inspector general, and then bring Police within the watch of the Ombudsman. Not the cozy claytons situation that currently exists. Insufficient transparency is the very first step along the road of corruption.

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