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Submissions for the NZ Spy Bill

Submissions on the NZ Spy Bill.

June 2013

Our democratic rights and freedoms and our personal privacy are under threat by two Bills going through parliament at the moment. 

These Bills will make it legal for our government to engage in blanket, dragnet type surveillance of New Zealanders using spy agencies without reasonable cause or a warrant.

Introduction:

The 2 Bills are:
  1. The Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Bill (nicknamed the GCSB "Spy Bill"); and.,
  2. The Telecommunications (Interception capability and Security) Bill (nicknamed the "Surveillance Bill").
Submissions on the "Spy" Bill:

The time for submissions on these Bills has passed. Voting on the GCSB Spy Bill is currently before parliament. 


You should pay close attention to who votes for the Bill. These are people who are choosing to take away the right of New Zealanders to privacy.

But, as long as any government or politicians plot and act to remove the right to privacy from New Zealanders - this matter will not be over.

Why providing your input on Bills is important

A Bill is a proposed Law before parliament. Once it is voted through it becomes an Act etc. 

Laws are important pillars of democracy. But laws can be changed by politicians (our elected representatives in a democratic country) in ways that undermine the democratic rights and civil liberties of the public - and, instead consolidate authoritarian type power in a small group of elected and unelected people. 

As a government transforms from democracy to authoritarian oligarchy (rule by a powerful group) or dictatorship (rule by one) the government can act oppressively and in the interest of the ruling power and their rich and powerful cronies. Growth in power of the police and military (including surveillance) is a common symptom of this change in power because authoritarian rulers tend to suppress all forms of opposition to consolidate their power. 

Lies, surveillance and propaganda are used to get law changes through that will legalize repressive and oppressive acts by the ruling power.

Examples of authoritarian states include: Nazi Germany, Communist East Germany (from the period after WWII to the fall of the Berlin Wall), Italy during the time of Mussolini, Spain under the rule of Franco, Communist China, North Korea etc

Democracy is not a spectator sport.

Democracy can be stolen, and despots take control by changing laws. 

It is consequently important to pay attention to what politicians are up to, and take note of any proposed changes in laws. 

If you are concerned that anything going on is seriously wrong, you should not just grumble about it and do nothing. You can write to your MP or someone else in government either on your own or as a group. You can write into the newspapers and speak your mind on talk-in radio and/or on online Blogs. 

If there is a Bill in the works, you or a group of you can make a submission and voice your concerns.

Anyone can make a submission to the government on a Bill (proposed law) that is brought before parliament. You don't need any special qualifications to do it. Ordinary people can do it. Individual and group submissions on proposed laws are important tools in a democracy.

Normally, it is straight forward to make a submission - (though it was a bit of a mission to find out how to do this on the Spy Bill).
(The New Zealand Parliament link to (most) Bills open to submissions)
You can make a submission as an individual, or as a group - but the submitters all have to provide verifiable details (which is a reasonable expectation).

This post is being kept active to serve as a guide for anyone who wants to make a submission on a Bill. 

It is probably not going to be effective just to write in and give your "feelings" about a Bill (though you can do that). If you write in just giving your feelings (emotionally) overall about a Bill - it will likely not get much traction. Bureaucrats tend to be rule oriented - and generally prefer that their rules are not questioned. If you are going to question rules they propose in a Bill - they are going to want to know your argument.

Consequently, it is suggested that you address the proposed rules (points or sections) in a given Bill individually, if your submission is to be given weight. This means you should back up your feelings and objections by making points about each specific part of the Bill that you think is wrong (or right, if that is the case). 

The example of a Submission made on the GCSB Bill, included here, is provided as a guide - should you wish to make a submission on any Bill in future. (You will need to adapt your content to the specific Bill you are concerned about, and write your concerns with reference to the rule (section) number in the Bill .)

You do not have to make many points in a submission.

Nor do you have to follow this lay-out (but the lay-out does follow the NZ government guide for submissions to select committees.)

Other Information

Here is a link to a booklet on how to write a submission to a select committee from the NZ Parliament. http://bit.ly/hgcs9s

Following this introduction, I will aso include a copy of my submission (minus identifying data) which you are welcome to use as a guide. 
(You should substitute your own words and refer to the relevant points in whatever Bill it is that you are concerned about.)

Other links that may be helpful:

The current (2003 version) of the "Spy" Act:  
http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2003/0009/latest/whole.html

The new "Spy" Bill: 
http://www.legislation.govt.nz/bill/government/2013/0109/13.0/DLM5177711.html

My post on the "Spy Bill"

My post on New Zealand's role in the global spy ring called Echelon - which provides more insight into why this is so important.

The current (2004 version) of the "Surveillance" Act

The current "Surveillance" Bill before parliament

The Search and Surveillance Act 2012

The New Zealand Parliament link to (most) Bills open to submissions

The contact list of current New Zealand members of parliament. (It would be a good idea to contact your MP regarding the "Spy" Bill and/or the "Surveillance" Bill, or any other existing Act that is of concern to you.)
http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/MPP/MPs/MPs/


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This copy of a submission made on the New Zealand GCSB "Spy Bill" may help give you an idea of a lay-out to use in a submission:

Date: (fill in date)


Specify the name of the select committee (an example follows)
A Submission to the Intelligence and 
Security Committee

on the

Specify the name of the Bill (an example follows)
Government Communications 
Security Bureau and 
Related Legislation Amendment Bill


Submitted by: (fill in your name)

Contact Details: (fill in your verifiable contact details - or, if you are a group making one submission, the verifiable contact details of each person in the group who is making the joint submission - and also specify the main contact person for the group)

Appearance Before the Committee: (make a decision here)
I wish (or do not wish) to appear before the committee to speak to my submission

Summary: (Make a summary of your main points in short form. Here is an example of mine).


1. I support the existence of the GCSB including it's signals intelligence  functions - with it's focus being national security.

2. I oppose the claimed function of the GCSB (a spy agency) to be the international relations of New Zealand.

3. I support the function of promoting international relations of New Zealand to be more appropriately the role of the diplomatic corps. In the interest of facilitating trust amongst nations, this should not involve covert operations.

4. I support the claimed function of the GCSB to support the economic well-being of New Zealand - but only in the overall context of National Security.

5. I oppose the claimed separate function of the GCSB (a spy agency) to be the economic well-being of New Zealand, owing to the risk of corrupt practices and potential damage to international relationships and to individuals caused by cyber-spies (and government) secretly accessing financial, business, industry and trade details.

6. I support the function of  the diplomatic corps and trade commission to contribute to the economic well-being of New Zealand.  In the interest of  facilitating trust amongst nations, businesses, industries and ordinary people - this should not involve covert operations.

7. I oppose widespread surveillance of the citizens of New Zealand either by actions of the GCSB when operating on it's own; or when operating in conjunction with any other SIGINT organizations or any agency whether in New Zealand or elsewhere -  owing to the inherent risks to democratic rights and freedoms; and the risks to personal privacy.

8. I support amending the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003; but feel that the amendments should focus on: 
a. protecting the democratic rights and freedoms of New Zealanders;  and,
b. protecting the personal privacy of New Zealanders; and,
c. curtailing the power of the GCSB; and,
d. increasing the transparency and oversight of the GCSB; and
e. increasing the accountability of the GCSB (and government in general). 
9. I oppose the amendments proposed in this  Bill because they do just the opposite of Summary point (8)

Conclusion:  (Put your conclusion here. Here is an example of mine)
I would recommend that this Bill be withdrawn and re-written.

Comments: (Put the comments you have on parts of the Bill that are of concern to you, preferably referring to the Section number in the Bill. Here is an example of my comments).

A. Section 7 - "Objective of the Bureau"

1. The objective of the Bureau in performing its functions, is to contribute to 
a. the national security of New Zealand; and 
b. the international relations and well-being of New Zealand; and 
c. the economic well-being of New Zealand.
2. Re: 7(a) -The objective of the GCSB to contribute to the National Security of New Zealand is fully supported.

3. Re: 7(b) - Formalizing as a separate function the notion that a spy agency's function is to contribute to international relations is dangerous. A vague and nonspecific objective such as this being given to an organization that operates in secret is fraught with hazards for the democratic rights of New Zealanders. 
a) Depending on the mindset of the government, the Minister, or the Director - there are potentially a wide range of personal,  group or organizational activities which might be critical of government  - that might be construed by a Big Brother government as influencing the "international relations and well-being of New Zealand;" and, following on that trigger harsh treatment by such a government.  
b) There is far too great a risk for the vague objective of contributing to the "international relations and well-being" to be abused by autocratic governments and power-hungry politicians and bureaucrats; and to use this notion to justify clamping down on freedom of expression and other democratic freedoms and rights of the general public.  
c) Positive international relations require trust. Trust requires honesty and at least some integrity of the parties involved in relationships. It is hypocritical at best (if not downright insulting) for any country to be expected to deal with another country's spy agency for the purpose of making or maintaining positive international relationships. Surely this objective should be dealt with by a separate organization such as the diplomatic service. (The diplomatic service should not be engaged in covert spying.) 
d) The normal open (not clandestine): networking as well as the collection and analysis of publicly available non-personal data - which is part and parcel of normal diplomatic and trade relations, does not constitute spying. This type of activity can help international relations of various types - including economic ones. But the success of diplomatic and trade relationships  requires mutual trust. Interactions between countries need to be reasonably honest and above-board if the relationships (diplomatic or economic) are likely to be perceived to be  trustworthy.  Spy agencies are generally the opposite of what would be desirable for these types of positive relationships.

4. Re: 7(c) - I agree with the notion that the GCSB support the economic well-being of New Zealand - but only in the context of its role in contributing to national security.
a. I oppose the claimed separate function of the GCSB (a spy agency) to be the economic well-being of New Zealand - owing to the risk of corrupt practices, and consequent potential damage to international relationships, and to individuals that might be caused by cyber-spies (and other members of government) secretly accessing financial, business, industry and trade details. 
b. This type of objective is likely to encourage corporate or industrial espionage and the theft or manipulation of trade secrets. This might benefit a few powerful and wealthy corporations, but is unlikely to be to the benefit of the economy of ordinary New Zealanders. It is also likely to bring the country into disrepute if it occurred and was discovered.  
c. Surely New Zealand's diplomatic and trade commissioner staff are the ones best suited to deal with contributing to the economic well-being of New Zealand. They need to be trustworthy too - and should not be involved in covert industrial or corporate spying or dishonest manipulation of trade.    
d. Keeping the country safe (eg from counterfeiters or those who manipulate the stock market) etc reasonably fits under the umbrella of the objective of guarding "national security". However, spying on plans unrelated to our own country's security (or worse still, stealing secrets) that are related to the industry or businesses of other countries or that of our own country's citizens - is corrupt. It cannot be justified by any government that has a molecule of integrity in it's make-up. It also increases the risk that the staff who are employed by an organization which has a lot of advanced computer technology (and which is able to operate in secret) may act in a malicious or fraudulent way with the financial data that they are able to access that is related to individual citizens or other countries.
5. There is another concern with including "international relations" and "economic well-being" as objectives for a spy agency:
a. Modern management treat employees like Pavlovian rats. They must do tricks (achieve "goals") to get their reward. The successful tricks can then be counted and reported by management to those higher up the chain, so they too will get their reward. 
b. Realistically the role of spies isn't likely geared towards creating positive relations or positive economic well-being. Their "group think" is more likely inclined to be suspicious, and to be on the look-out for negatives.  
c. So what happens when spies must fulfill performance "goals" for something like  "international relations" and "economic well-being"? Isn't it likely that what will be measured will be what the "group think" perceives as threats to these goals (versus positive outcomes)? Isn't it also likely that what constitutes a perceived threat is likely to become more and more elastic over time - such that the democratic and civil liberties of the public eventually become construed as "threats"?
6. In the 2003 version "foreign intelligence" was at the forefront of the objectives. In this proposed amendment, "foreign intelligence" is conspicuously absent - which opens the objective of the "Bureau" to be legally interpreted as to include "national" as well as "foreign" communications interception. 

7. The consequences of wide-ranging, non-specific objectives may not be felt by citizens when they are applied against "foreigners" due to a distancing effect. It's another story when the actions of citizens become policed against such broad objectives, especially when the factors noted above come into play. 

B.  Removal of the focus on surveillance of foreigners.
  1. The Amendment removes limiting the scope of the actions of the GCSB under the Act - to surveillance of foreigners. 
  2. By implication, this means that this Bill seeks to legalize intrusive blanket surveillance of New Zealand citizens, not just foreigners. At a minimum this is apparent in Section 7, Section 8, Part 3, Section 13, Section 15, Section 16, and Section 19.  (Please include here any other part where this type of change has been made, lest I did not mention it.) 
  3. What evidence is there that terrorists or significant criminals have been found owing to the blanket surveillance of New Zealanders? None.
  4. I oppose this pervasive change to the Act as proposed in this Bill owing to the potential negative consequences on the democratic rights and freedoms of New Zealanders and the personal privacy of New Zealanders.
C. Change in Section 14
  1. In the 2003 version - Section 14 was entitled: "Interception not to target domestic communication"
  2. The restriction on intercepting the communications of a person who is a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident are pretty straight forward in the 2003 version. 
  3. In the current proposed amendment, the wording has been changed to: "Interception not to target New Zealand citizens or permanent residents for intelligence gathering purposes." This is not the same as saying: "Interception not to target domestic communication"
  4. Any restrictions in the proposed amendment regarding targeting New Zealand citizens or permanent residents would only apply to a limited part of the amended law - the newly proposed section 8B. (The proposed Section 8 has multiple parts in the amendment besides 8B).
  5. This change needs to be reconsidered to insure that the democratic rights and freedoms and privacy of New Zealanders are clearly protected.
D. Change in Section 15
  1. There have been major changes to this Section which need substantial review.
  2. The amendment Bill proposes that two very extensive sections are to be added which facilitate authorisation to intercept communication or access information infrastructure including - for the purpose of intercepting the private communications of a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident of New Zealand.
  3. In the amendment, a new cross-heading is to be inserted: "Authorisations to intercept communications or access information infrastructures" which did not exist in the 2003 document.
  4. This clause effectively legalizes blanket surveillance by direct access to data in telephone networks and on servers. This means access to content similar to Prism. It should be pretty clear that Prism and the other off-shoots of Echelon's Stellar Wind Program have caused a major scandal in the US. 
  5. Until the world heard what the US had been up to through its Echelon spy program (which New Zealand / GCSB is part of) - this type of thing only occurred in "Big Brother" authoritarian states like China and North Korea etc because it was illegal in democratic countries.
  6. Adolf Hitler and any of the Dictators would have just loved to have open access to everyone's data. The potential for abuse is substantial.
  7. The amendments to Section 15 are incredibly intrusive. Without doubt the proposed changes seek sanction of "Big Brother" type of activities.
  8. I very strongly oppose this amendment.
E. Change to Section 21

1. The change to Section 21 is significant. It confers immunity from civil and criminal liability.

2. Even in the 2003 version - there is an implication that the mere existence of a warrant or authorisation is sufficient to justify intrusion - but, in the proposed new amendment the title has been changed to: "Immunity from civil and criminal liability."

3. The proposed amendment would legally confer immunity to the Director and all employees of the Bureau. This means that whether by mistake, or deliberately through maliciousness - a great wrong can be done to an individual as a consequence of a wrongful warrant or authorisation and related intrusion on privacy - but the person targeted with this action will have no legal recourse. 

4. This is not evidence of accountability. 

5. At an absolute minimum, in the interest of protecting the public and to serve as a deterrent  to inappropriate surveillance and intrusion into personal privacy and in the interest of accountability - I think that the following should be considered in any amendment to the current Act:
a. The existence of an authorisation or warrant should not mitigate against actions that cannot truly be justified as necessary for national security; and, 
b. There needs to be accountability as well as significant penalties (including the right for individuals to sue) for deliberate or malicious wrong-doing, or the unwarranted intrusion into personal privacy that cannot be clearly justified on the basis of the protection of national security.  
c. In the interest of natural justice, in these cases, if they progress to court - there should be obligatory access granted to the person(s) who has/have been spied upon to all information relevant to the matter that is held by the Bureau as part of the legal Discovery process. (Release of data claimed to be essential for national security should be screened by the judiciary to determine if this is truly the case).  
d. The penalties for spoliation (ie the destruction, modification or hiding) of evidence by the Bureau (or any government agency) should be very high.  
e. Under such circumstances, the Bureau should not be able to hide relevant evidence just because they have the ability to label information as secret in order to hide it.  
f. The fact that information related to wrong-doing obtained under Discovery or the Official Information Act or Privacy Act might merely be embarrassing to any Minister, politician, Director, the Bureau, or any other bureaucratic organization or individual bureaucrat or the government in general should never be deemed as constituting a threat to national security. Under these circumstances, such revelations serve to protect the public from the tyranny of people in authority with too much power, and not enough integrity to act in a fair and reasonable manner.  
g. The risk of exposing inappropriate policies and actions would also serve as a concrete deterrent to such actions. 
F. A need to curtail the power of the Bureau and increase it's oversight; and the need for oversight of the acts of politicians and senior bureaucrats.

1. The power of the Bureau needs to decrease and there needs to be increased oversight. 

2. GCSB is an organization that operates mainly in secret. It likely attracts staff who have a more Machiavellian view than average of what constitutes right versus wrong.

3. It has control of powerful resources that allows staff to intrude on people's information (including financial information); and also the technology to steal it, modify it or delete it. In other words, GCSB not only can wrongfully intrude on people's information - but it has the potential for it's staff to maliciously or fraudulently do criminal hacking.

4. It also has the same power at hand required by cyber-terrorists to bring a country to it's knees.

5. It's not just the GCSB that needs close monitoring. The actions of politicians and senior bureaucrats also requires oversight in order to prevent abuse of access to a powerful tool.  
a. Watergate was a classic case of abuse of spying by government officials. It led to the resignation of President Nixon.  
b. At the moment there is a brouhaha in Czechoslovakia. The Czech Prime Minister has resigned after his Chief of Staff was accused of corruption and abuse of power. The abuse of power included allegations that military intelligence had been illegally ordered to spy on 3 people. 
6. The GCSB has access to data. Data is information. Information leads to knowledge and knowledge leads to power. Power is a powerful aphrodisiac for some people.


"Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." (Lord Acton)

7. Strong informed oversight is required of any spy organization, the military or police in order to insure that policies and procedures and actions are actually aboveboard (not just claimed to be aboveboard) and to insure that democratic rights and freedoms are maintained.

8. Those who provide oversight should not be expected to operate in the dark or be misled; and they should have authority to halt activity that they think is wrongful. In other words, in the interest of the common good, in some areas  their power needs to be greater than the Director.

Conclusions: (Make one or a few conclusions from your comments)
  • There are multiple major problems with the proposed Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill.
  • I support the Bill being scrapped and a new Bill drafted.
  • In conjunction with this, I support also scrapping the Telecommunications Interception Capability and Security Bill. That Bill also needs to be restructured to protect the democratic rights and freedoms, and privacy of New Zealanders.
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The date for submissions has expired but you can still talk to your member of parliament about this Bill.


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If you want to leave a comment you are welcome to do so.
Click on "Post a Comment" below the very bottom of the Post
and a comment box will appear.

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If you are interested in reading more on 
surveillance and privacy,
you might also be interested in...


The New Zealand GCSB Spy Bill - 12 steps closer to Big Brother surveillance

Coffee Q5: Would you vote for, or respect any politician - who votes in favor of the GCSB Spy Bill?

Eye Spy - Echelon, Big Brother and New Zealand - in the Global Spying Network

Peeping Toms - 70 years of government led domestic surveillance and repression through Spy Agencies

States of Surveillance: New - Mandatory blood testing of all Americans age 15-65 

States of Paranoia - Evolution of a Police State and Constitution Free Zones





Lies disguised as truth D40
Puppet D40


Some politicians and bureaucrats think the general public are dumb. They want to keep us that way by controlling what information we are given. 

The information we are provided may be "truthiness" (which is not the truth, and involves all manner of deception), not truth. Lies and deception are often used to put a positive spin on matters  we would not agree to, or would disgust us if we knew the truth. Secrecy is another tool of "impression management" to cover up wrong-doing, shameful or corrupt acts.

Freedom of information is a cornerstone of democracy and justice. Without it, the risk of a decline into an authoritarian form of government is virtually inevitable.

Are we "sheep-les" or mere puppets who can be led to believe and do whatever our masters say; or are we thinking people who want to be truthfully informed? 

Are we willing to speak up and insist on the truth? Are we prepared to take action to guard our democratic rights and our rights to justice and fair treatment?
_____________________________


Thinking Tiger D40





The people generally trust their government, law-makers and the publicly funded bureaucrats who are responsible for representing their interests. But the "people" are being deceived in many instances. We feel this is wrong.  The "people" - ordinary folk like you and me have great power in democratic countries. We can and should do something about this.

Lies, deception, cover-ups and corrupt practices must be "out"-ed if they are to end. This is necessary for democracy and justice to survive.



Tiger sleeping D40







The "people" are like a sleeping tiger.





Tiger jumping D40



If you pull the tail of the tiger; it is to be expected that the tiger will wake up, take notice of it's tormenters and give chase.






In the interests of democracy, justice, world peace and a stable economy for ordinary people - the tiger must run wrong-doers to the ground.


Tiger running wrong do-ers to ground D40


Separator D40
Original 3 Monkeys D40
Original 3 Monkeys


All that is required for evil to take hold and grow is to: close your eyes, block your ears, shut your mouth - and do nothing.


If we do nothing - then nothing will improve.
Spreading the Word D40

Spread the Word!
One person can achieve little or nothing. 
Many can move mountains.

3 Freedom Monkeys D40
3 Freedom of Information Monkeys

Thank you from
3 Monkeys & me

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