MEDIAWATCH: Why Damien Grant’s fears of a Police State in NZ are so well founded 


Drug bust was a huge coup – but the surveillance should trouble free citizens

This latest huge bust, in a never-ending series of huge busts, is being touted as a coup in the War on Drugs, begun by Richard Nixon in 1971 – and indeed it is. This is Graham Greene level skullduggery by the boys and girls in blue. Congratulations to all involved.

But… wait.

Let’s stop and consider this. As a citizen of a free country it is my expectation that the state is not going to be listening to my communications without first convincing a judge that there is probable cause to be doing so.

Fireworks aficionado, poster boy for redemption and Libertarian stuntman, Damien Grant, fears a police state, and he should!

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Every month there’s a new revelation that the NZ Police are abusing their power.

Last month Northland Police were caught illegally using drink-drive checkpoints to gather intelligence. The cops response was ‘oops’.

The month before that they were caught illegally taking photos of Māori teenagers.

In April their bullshit ‘formal warnings’ system also turned out to be a secret intelligence network…

A judge has ruled that police ‘formal warnings’ are illegal and akin to a conviction without trial

The police practice of issuing “formal warnings” to people who haven’t been convicted of any crime – and sharing that information with other parties – has been found to be illegal.

In a ruling that could change the way police officers do their job, High Court Judge Paul Davison​ found that the warnings – issued 20,000 times in the past 10 years – had no basis in statutory or common law and were a breach of the Bill of Rights Act.

Warren Pyke, the lawyer who sought the judicial review for a client who had been issued with one of the warnings, said most people would have no idea that such information was kept and shared.

…so that’s 3 off the record intelligence networks that have all been uncovered in the last 3 months.

Māori youth are targeted and identified illegally on the street and that data kept on an off the record real time system.

Drink-Drive check points are for drink diving NOT for illegal intel gathering!

And ‘formal warning’s have been used as a massive treasure trove of information.

Every single time they get caught, their response is ‘oooops’.

So why on earth would we give the Police enormous omnipotent Eye of Mordor powers with their mass surveillance face recognition tech?

Right now, the NZ Police are using mass surveillance facial recognition software from an Orwellian company that illegally sources photos without any sign off from the Privacy Commissioner or their own Police Boss!

The Police then held a ‘stocktake’ of these types of unapproved face recognition software trials and lo and fucking behold the Police quietly admit to a $9million face recognition network they are setting up with zero oversight from the Privacy Commissioner???

Police setting up $9m facial recognition system which can identify people from CCTV feed

Police have been quietly setting up a $9 million facial recognition system that can take a live feed from CCTV cameras and identify people from it.

This would push New Zealand into new territory for tracking citizens.

It will be run by a non-police contractor – US firm Dataworks Plus – and collect 15,000 facial images a year, with that expected to expand up to 10-fold.

Their latest move is to create some fake watchdog panel over mass surveillance powers that no on gave them!

Let’s not forget their sudden surge of warrantless searches…

…on top of this enormous state surveillance power, there is a constant push from the Maori Party and the SIS to gain even MORE power!

More data surveillance and less privacy? Spy chief says the public must decide

The public must decide if spies should conduct greater data surveillance to identify the next terrorist, Security Intelligence Service director-general Rebecca Kitteridge says.

Six months on from the Royal Commission of Inquiry in the Christchurch mosque terror attacks, Kitteridge wants to have a public campaign, akin to that of the Covid-19 pandemic, to talk about the possible “technology-privacy trade off” and unite New Zealanders behind national security threats.

…I spy with my 5 eyes, something beginning with 1984!

We have the capacity to catch terrorists by using the existing powers focused differently, not by importing Orwell’s Big Sister!

Which brings me to the Maori Party’s gasp inducing demand to set up a secret police force  comprised of the SIS and the Police Intelligence Unit to hunt down white supremacists.

If any other political party asked to create a secret police force that hunts for word crimes and thought criminals there would be rioting in the street but because it’s the Maori Party and it’s aimed at something we all hate that’s somehow fine?

The duplicitous and underhand manner in which the NZ Police have quietly amassed a mass surveillance network alongside their constant abuse of power to get what they want is an incredibly dangerous combination for any State Agency to gain.

Are we sure we know what level of power we are blithely handing over here?

A Police State starts with the promise of security.


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    • @john
      That’s, gosh, because, gosh, your crooked natzo’s and their neoliberal confederates, the ones who infected Labour then all but destroyed it from within and in so doing almost taking AO/NZ down with it have spent the last 37 years creating a now flourishing prison and police industry profiting from the societal dysfunction you right wing zingers and natzo parasites manufactured. Gosh. I bet you didn’t ,gosh, see that, gosh, coming. Gosh.
      Now fuck off the gosh off will you, you goshing little prick. I don’t know about others here but I think your groundless, toxic little snipes are boring as Gosh while delivering nothing of any real value to the argument. I mean, Gosh man? Why are you right wingers so gosh darn boring and witless yet greedy as gosh? Do you have to eternally buy stuff to hide the fact that you have no imagination? Gosh?

      • Agreed @CB. All these right wing trolls have infected this blog to the point of absolute boredom. I thank the almighty that Winny sent the natzos packing 2017 but all the meanies from the right just can’t grasp that Jacinda and Labour are fixing our broken country and all these right wing idiots just want to reverse everything that’s not broken and return BAU. National and Key wrecked this country.

    • It seems fishy that it’s primarily the five eyes countries that are retiring their copper phone networks, in favour of fibre networks that are so much easier to spy on, with mass surveillance programs, or as infamous right winger Sir John used to say, mass collection programs. Apparently the old copper network is too costly to maintain and is not future proofed. So why doesn’t the monopoly that is Chorus, make a good business decision and sell the copper network it doesn’t want, to the highest bidder. I wonder. Is free market competition not good? The Daily Blog could put in a starting bid of one dollar, as a matter of principle, after the blog’s founder was himself illegally spied on.

      With such govt jiggery pokery to facilitate spying, it’s no surprise that hackers are using the same weaponised backdoors used by the likes of stuxnet, to launch ransomware attacks against DHB’s. This kind of stuff doesn’t happen in a vacuum. If networks and systems didn’t have deliberate backdoors, and this country wasn’t in the foremost spying alliance, we wouldn’t be targeted like this. Our agenda of state snooping, stalking, burgling, and peeping tommery, is coming home to roost, and biting us on the bum.
      The rate of ransomware attacks has increased 2000% in the last year according to cert. It’s time for cert to start properly helping organisations by making freely available cross platform antivirus antiransomware, that’s top of the line. Rope in experts like Dotcom to help create it, if that’s what it takes.

      It’s only a matter of time before everyone’s every movement is tracked by an AI super computer sifting through data in seconds that would take humans a millennia. Using real time full take digital communications, and browser history checking, and voice recognition of phone and voip calls and messaging, and facial recognition of street and public building cctv feeds, and mobile phone tracking with cell tower, gps, wifi and bluetooth handshake data, and records of all eftpos and atm and creditcard transactions, and nationwide mapping of every wifi identifier which google’s already doing, and smart electricity meters to know what time your household goes to bed or gets up on any particular day, and paywave and loyalty cards to know what you’re eating, and effluent testing to know what you’re pooing, and instant access to the range of government databases, and whole population DNA sequencing via the health system. We’ll be monitored like caged lab rats.

      The AI will remember forever, the phone calls that you once had with your grandparents, or the name of your first babysitter, long after you have forgotten. This isn’t a conspiracy theory, it’s just the way it’s going to be. A road to hell paved with good intentions, machine learning, ineffective privacy commission, and intelligence community captured politicians. We know that whenever intelligence community untouchables fail, be it the Christchurch massacre or being caught burgling private homes, either their powers get increased, or their legal protections get increased. They can’t lose if failure is incentivised. It’s the same upside down NRA logic, that the answer to gun violence is more guns.

      A corruption of cause and effect, or is it a matter of scale. When an individual acts in such ways it’s a crime, but when the state does it’s national security. When a supremacist guns down CIVILIANS they’re a murderer, but when a USAF general carpet bombs CIVILIANS with napalm, they’re a war hero.

  1. The police know that they are not meant to be using drink/drive checkpoints to collect data for other operations or purposes.

    This is exactly what they did in Lower Hutt one Sunday afternoon, to dear old citizens attending an End of Life Choice meeting in a private home. Threat to security ? Not at all. I think the officer in charge of that operation was a Catholic, and therefore possibly more likely to be opposed to euthanasia, and some cops may have expressed unease about performing under false pretences, but there has to be another back story when tax payer funding was being diverted to an issue which posed no threat to the general public, and when it was an area of public debate at the time.

    Like the busting of dear little old ladies hoping to sign off with dignity, the misuse of drink/drive checkpoints is unlikely to be police policy, but probably handy for cops wanting to improve their stats, and needing to impress their superiors whose knees tremble at a query from the Minister, so I’d start with the National Office and HQ officers – change the way they think – recycle them elsewhere or somewhere – but Kitteridge shouldn’t be asking the public to do her job for her when the outcome is fairly predictable.

    • That’s how they knew Lundy was guilty – they caught him in a speed camera, but speed cameras cannot be used as evidence in a trial for anything other than a speeding offence.

      • That would have been admissable, that would have clinched it at the first trial forever, game over. No way they’d walk from that. In that case you’re going to have to explain why they repudiated their own evidence from the first trial at the second trial and had Lundy going in the middle of the night instead of the evening rush hour when they were sitting on a photo of him from the evening. No matter how low one’s view of the police, there’s no world where they would make a case for a different time than speed camera evidence they had.

      • Andrew- Interesting about Lundy. Perhaps the regulation/law restricting speed camera evidence to speeding offences needs to be revisited if it means that major criminals might otherwise escape conviction and punishment for crimes they’ve committed.

  2. Where are Andrew Little – justice and Poto Williams- Police on this illegal behaviour ? And Miss transparency herself Jacinda Adern.

    I thought that after ignoring sovereign laws when it suited them under the last government we had moved on from that kind of approach of yeah nah its pretty legal in 2017.

    Just silence from civil liberties groups and the legal profession that surely would be buy now increasingly alarmed and where is the race relations conciliator Meng Foon on what are serious breaches by the NZ Police ?

    The Police commissioner Andrew Costner needs to front up and explain.

    • “Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say.” Edward Snowden

  3. Nothing to hide and nothing to fear. That’s part of the rationale some Remuera-ites probably had when they wanted the police to do over the houses of Mongel Mob members while they were at a funeral last week.

    That’s why they were happy about South Auckland houses being done over at dawn for overstayers.

    For the purposes of having a good clean, bad behaviour free society those same people will welcome dawn raids, house to house in the streets of Remuera, St Heliers, Fendalton and Khandallah on a “just-in-case” basis. Nothing to hide, nothing to fear.

    • It is the Millennial understanding of life as normal…having grown up revealing every private detail to all and sundry, forever on social media. It has set a new non-privacy social paradigm. Scary.

  4. The cops photograph and video gang/bike activities and afterwards review the evidence and arrest them. They did that for the BOP and Hawkes Bay incidents a month or two back.

    I didnt see any cyclists get arrested for resisting the cops and refusing to stop when they trespassed over the Harbour Bridge. They may have reviewed their videos later.

    I wouldnt expect the cops to carry out large scale arrests at a gathering and cause a risk to them and public. Next we’ll see the Natz/Act bring in the army/SAS/helicopters/Tanks to quell a riot.

  5. Legalize all street drugs tomorrow and by nightfall all drug related crime will have disappeared. Then, on Tuesday, we should insist our politicians make funds available for health support for addicts who want and need it. Like we already do for booze, fags, animal fats and sugar, the harmful and addictive substances that are still available in our supermarkets.
    You and I know that, because all we have to do is read reports from where that approach works. Which is everywhere that, that approach is adopted.
    The only criminals doing harm to our society in regard to drugs is our cowardly politicians using the police to intimidate us into subservience to the bold and voracious insurance industry feeding off our misery.
    Have any of you watched a brilliant Neon series titled ‘The Wire’ ? Give it a whirl.
    There’s no real war on drugs. That died with regan. The real war is between capitalism and the public and the battle field starts at your bank statement.

  6. Make it a criminal offence for any police officer and their immediate superior to unlawfully collect data.

    A slap on the wrist by a journalist or the Privacy Commissioner is simply inadequate to deter them. A prospective criminal conviction would make a police officer check very carefully the legality of what they intend to do.


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