Friday, May 17, 2013

Submissions on the GCSB Bill

The government’s reaction to the damning report about the GCSB by Rebecca Kitteridge was to introduce the “GCSB and Related Legislation Amendment Bill”. It passed its first reading under urgency on May 8, 2013.

Its main change to the GCSB Act consist of removing the word “foreign” from the Act in order to allow precisely what the previous version expressly ruled out: that the GCSB can be used to spy on NZ citizens and residents. One of the roles of the GCSB is to assist the SIS and the Police, the argument being that not doing so would mean that expensive surveillance equipment would have to be duplicated across the agencies and that would be inefficient. Therefore the GCSB should be able to spy on NZers when assisting other agencies. Human rights are being violated in the name of efficiency – an extremely dangerous thing to do.

Other changes in the Bill are that the Inspector-General of Security and Intelligence will get a deputy (so far he has been all by himself) and can now conduct random checks with the GCSB. This falls considerably short of the recommendation of the Kitterridge report, which asked for a structure similar to that in Australia, which has 12 staff.

Below is the official blurb about the GCSB Bill. Submissions can be made to the Intelligence and Security Committee at by Thursday, 13 June 2013.

Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill

The bill is an omnibus bill that proposes amendments to the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Act 1996, and the Intelligence and Security Committee Act 1996. The purposes of the bill are to make clear the statutory framework governing the activities of the GCSB and to enhance the external mechanisms for the oversight of the New Zealand's intelligence agencies. The Intelligence and Security Committee is inviting submissions on the bill. The closing date for submissions is Thursday, 13 June 2013. A copy of the bill and the regulatory impact statement can be accessed from the downloads panel on this page. Submissions can be emailed to If you wish to appear before the committee, state this clearly and provide a name, daytime phone number, and email address. Submissions will generally be made public. The committee is required to report to the House on this bill by 26 July 2013.

The Bill can be downloaded here.

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