Listener editorial on GCSB Bill

The Listener editorial is perhaps the most sane of any media on the issue of the GCSB Bill. It’s just a pity they couldn’t say it before the bill was passed in order to deal with the more extreme left opponents of the bill.

The Government was right to ignore the more hysterical opposition to its new spying legislation, but it may yet pay a price for the pace at which the bill was passed through the House.

There are times when a patiently plodding belts-and-braces approach is the best one in politics, and never more so than when a law concerns the rights of a private citizen against the mighty institution that is the state.

I doubt the government will pay a price for the bill.

The Government insists it has done no more than correct irregularities in the existing legislation, passed in 2003 under a Labour-led government to govern the GCSB, which at all times believed it was acting legally, as did the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security and successive Prime Ministers, including Helen Clark. However, the fact that the Government was only able to pass the tidy-up with a two-vote majority in Parliament shows it did not make that case convincingly to Opposition parties relishing a rare opportunity to pressure Key.

David Shearer incurred the wrath of Helen Clark, who ultimately helped dispatch the fool as he played politics with national security. Same with Robertson. Helen Clark realises the long term damage done to the party by cuddling up tot he extreme left lunatics and the fat German fraudster in seeking to get some hits on the Prime Minister. She knows just how important GCSB is to the nation and was aghast with Shearer’s stupidity. 

Shearer excuses of resigning after the GCSB bill was passed don’t wash…if it was so important to Labour then why were his speeches so pathetic? The reality is he failed.

There is no doubt the Government mishandled the debate. It may have misread the campaign of activism against the bill as being a continuation of general anti-National activism, rather than a groundswell of concern from New Zealanders. If so, it underestimated community concerns in an era when, after the recent revelations by Edward Snowden, individual privacy has never felt more vulnerable. It underestimated, too, the inherent mistrust the community has in government agencies, and therefore the public’s willingness to believe that their rights were probably being eroded.

There is not an inherent mistrust in the community. There is a small, incredibly small group of disaffected smelly hippies who have a voice louder than they should, who along with a tam media were able to shout even louder. If anyone in New Zealand conducts privacy invading spying on citizens more than anyone else it is the media…and they think they are guardians against the state…pfft…the next time they run exclusive photos of some celebrity papped form afar we can all point and accuse them of “spying” on citizens.

In fact, the measures in the new GCSB legislation are not as sweeping as critics allege. Although the new law does clarify the GCSB’s powers to spy on New Zealand individuals and organisations, there are substantially more robust checks and balances to prevent abuse or overuse. The provisions make the process for the GCSB to get a warrant more rigorous than those established under Labour, not less.

Primarily, the GCSB has three functions. One is protecting government organisations and others from cyber-attack. This is a growing threat, and a growing vulnerability. We are told that already this year, the number of incidents logged with the National Cyber Security Centre is more than for all of last year. Second, the GCSB collects foreign intelligence – the traditional spying role. Third is the GCSB’s role in assisting other state agencies when they need the specialist skills of the GCSB.

Although the old legislation said the GCSB could assist other agencies, exactly who or how many were not specified. The new legislation makes it clear the GCSB may assist only the SIS, Police and Defence Force, and only in circumstances where those agencies themselves have already obtained a warrant for surveillance. In its own right the GCSB cannot access private communications or obtain metadata – information generated as people used phones, computers and the like – without first obtaining warrants.

It was all very sensible, but now you have assorted lunatics telling everyone how to encrypt their emails so the government won’t spy on them…virtually assuring that the government will now take a very close look at them because of the encryption..duh.

The public is mature enough to understand that the nature of spy agencies’ work means it is mostly conducted covertly in the shadows. But that makes it even more important that there are adequate checks and balances.

Although the gravity of the threats we face mean new powers may well be necessary weapons in the battles against terrorism, child pornography, people smuggling and economic sabotage, New Zealanders are entitled to the reassurance that there will never be political or other opportunistic abuse of the powers and information obtained under them.

I said to one of the fools who spoke at the small town hall meeting against the GCSB bill that what he was asking is for the Police, SIS, and GCSB to find criminals who are using technology and all available methods of technical obfuscation, stop them committing crimes whether they be violent or fraudulent without any tools to do so just in case those tools might one day be used to “spy” on them.

This is the same as asking the Police to go into a gunfight with a short baton.

The terrible pity is that the Labour party allowed themselves to kneel before Kim Dotcom in submission, he used them to further his PR campaign to try and buck extradition laws. If he claims he is innocent then get on a plane and go prove it instead of cowering. I’ve never knew that Germans could exhibit such cowardice..normally they show the cold face and tough things out…not Krim DotCon.


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  • Patrick

    Isn’t a pity other media organisations failed to show any maturity around this, just like Shearer & Labour the media saw this as a gold plated opportunity to have a crack at Key & National. Totally to the detriment of the debate & to Kiwis, misinformation, lies & scurrilous behaviour was all we got from the so called Fourth Estate. What was needed was in depth educated independent analysis & thinking, instead we got partisan politics. We are poorer because it it.

    • GazzW

      Well said Patrick. Shearer allowed labour to be led by the nose by Russel Norman and it was a shameful day for NZ politics to see labour prostrate themselves to a charlatan like Dotcom in a vain attempt to gain some traction. As for the Fourth Estate…………NZ does not have one.

    • Mr_Blobby

      What a load of old rubbish all I heard anybody asking for, was not to rush through an important piece of legislation, have a serious look at it and a sensible debate, so we can have some decent legislation for a change that is not found to be flawed at some later date.

      What we got was a band aid quick fix job, rushed through with urgency. The problem was that nobody could explain the need for the urgency, the sun still came up in the morning.

      Now we will have to revisit the whole mess again at some point in the future.

      Has any body ever done a cost benefit analysis on what it costs the TAX payer to pass legislation.

      Because I have seen to many bills in the last 20-30 years that have done nothing but tinker around the edges and achieve nothing, unless it is to extract more TAX from us, erode our various basic human rights etc.

      There are also many examples of self interest.

      The latest being to scrap the bill regulating lobbyist. Then the perks of office, the number of MP’s the list is endless.

      Try to get over your one eyed, party, approach and look objectively at what is really happening.

      • johnbronkhorst

        Anyone….yes even you. Who actually read the bill, researched it, KNOWS that labour, greens and MSM were LYING.

      • GazzW

        ‘Now we will have to revisit the whole mess again at some point in the future”

        We will be doing precisely that Mr B in 2015 for the first review. Hopefully the next labour leader will ignore Shearer’s lead and heed the advice of Clarke and sit down alongside the PM to sort out any shortcomings. Far better that than to be led by the nose by those with their own agendas or oppose everything for the sake of political dogma.

        • Mr_Blobby

          I think if you look at our my comments you will find that I look at the big picture and get less caught up in your political dogma.

          • Blobby you have an over inflated ego, your one liners don’t have any substance whatsoever, you’re dogma is a squeaky toy Blobby.

      • Patrick

        I take it from your comments that you thought the media misinformation & the tactics employed by the likes of John Campbell were an appropriate way in which to inform the public of the issues surrounding the GCSB bill? That was the gist of my comments above.
        Funny how even Helen Clarke herself alluded to the poor behaviour during interviews recently, funny how Helen Clarke was critical of Shearer on this. As someone who has been in the position of being responsible for the security of NZ even she appreciates that partisan politics has no place in matters concerning the security of NZ.

      • You are increasingly full of shit. Especially when you lie. The GCSB Bill was NOT rushed through under urgency…at all.

        • Mr_Blobby

          Now now Whaleboy not under urgency but still rushed.

          How about some balance.and less political dogma.

          • Back at you Blobby, you’ve got all these knee jerk one liners but you are full of hot air when it comes to actual debate.

  • middleagedwhiteguy

    A colleague at my work was moaning about this stupid GCSB legislation, so I asked him if he knew what it is about, and what it did that was different to the legislation it replaced. I showed him the comparison that appeared in Kiwiblog, and his anger at the bill dissipated and was now directed at the media and Labour, who he now feels lied to him.

    • Daniel Church

      I hope one day Campbell Live is held accountable for misleading the public. I can only hope though :/

      • blokeintakapuna

        BSA, BSA!

      • Whanga_Cynic

        Don’t hold your breath.

      • Clever Harry

        Whatever happened to public floggings?
        Being them back I say.

      • I think we’re in a bit of a nasty phase where our MSM are getting more and more partisan, like for example, Fox in the US, but here, they are too hypocritical to nail their colours to the mast.

        If Campbell Live et al came out and declared that they are, in general, going to be against the Government, that’s absolutely fine.

        Blogs like these thrive not because we pretend to be unbiased, it is because we wear our bias on our sleeves. Within that we speak our truth, and even those that may disagree with the policies at least respect the position we take.

        • johnbronkhorst

          At least Fox News actually LOOK for REAL NEWS. They may slant it a certain way but aside from interpretation at least the facts are there!

        • Patrick

          They are not against the Government per se – just any Government that is not a bunch of socialists.

  • Daniel Church

    Well said Whale!

  • johnbronkhorst

    Maybe I should start getting the listener!
    I was saying exactly this since the beginning, but would start to second guess myself, because of the weight of media lies against my thoughts and opinions!
    Wonder how many others were like me, researched it then doubted their own conclusions because of the MSM?
    How bad will this misrepresentation get (by MSM, labour and greens) before the next election?
    For me it has gone the other way, now I am willing to believe anything bad about these “people”!
    eg a coal train has derailed in the South Island, my first thoughts were: The greenie protesters derailed a train?
    On review it is probably something to do with the earthquakes….BUT!!!

  • It’s rather enlightening to realise Grant Robertson and friends trawled Whale Oil to get something to actually debate with their supporters at the Town Hall …

    How’d that work out for ya Mr_Blobby ?

    The GCSB bill was being discussed for 3years+, and they still had nothing to add to the conversation.

  • Anonymouse Coward

    We have the funny polices behaviour in the Urawera and DotCom raids then the revelations from Edward Snowden, and you expect the public to buy into the “trust us, we know what we are doing” line?

    • johnbronkhorst

      Facts??? Any facts with this innuendo???

  • I just want to repeat this.

    David Shearer incurred the wrath of Helen Clark, who ultimately helped dispatch the fool as he played politics with national security. Same with Robertson. Helen Clark realises the long term damage done to the party by cuddling up tot he extreme left lunatics and the fat German fraudster in seeking to get some hits on the Prime Minister. She knows just how important GCSB is to the nation and was aghast with Shearer’s stupidity.

    • johnbronkhorst

      Abso fucking lutely!!
      and I hate helen clarke, everything she stands for, and would be happy to blame her for WW2 BUT…on this she is right!!

    • Hazards001

      Saved me doing it!

  • Clever Harry

    I’ve got a really great idea. Hold you seats or the wall because the idea is really radical as far as thoughts go and may cause some people to be quite pissy:

    Don’t break the law.

    Then the GCSB won’t have a reason to investigate and spy on you.

    Pretty easy way to avoid an issue.

    • It is a great idea.

      Now, please rephrase it so the paranoid can find peace in your words.

      • Don’t answer the phone and delete your email account, you’re just inviting terrorists into the country. :-)

        • Mr_Blobby

          “knee jerk one liners but you are full of hot air when it comes to actual debate.”

          “over inflated ego, your one liners don’t have any substance whatsoever, you’re dogma is a squeaky toy”

          What a shallow little troglodyte you are orphan.

          • You make my point for me , morons resort to name calling every time.

  • AnonWgtn

    FatCrimin also has a Finnish passport so he could go there.

  • Actually Narelle Hansen has a similarly well argued piece in the Waikato Times – if anyone is interested. (She is always worth reading!)