Saturday, August 8, 2015

Defining Surveillance

The obfuscation of what and what 'surveillance' is not continues.

In their investigation into whether Detective Inspector Grant Wormald perjured himself during one of Dotcom's court appearances in August 2012, the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) decided that the senior police officer did not perjure himself. The problem was, he just may not have realised what surveillance is.

They found that Wormald was aware the GCSB was assisting in the investigation. Wormald knew that that involved the "interception of the private communications of Mr Dotcom and at least one of his associates" but that was not surveillance in Wormald's mind.

If Wormald perjured himself - it wasn't his fault. According to the IPCA, "'surveillance' was a generic legal definition that did not exist at the time of the Police operation in January 2012." It only became clearer what surveillance was after the enactment of the 2012 Search and Surveillance Act. (NB. Wormald was questioned in August 2012 about the surveillance of Dotcom, nearly four months after the Search and Surveillance Act was enacted in April 2012.)

John Key's definition of surveillance is also hard to pin down.

Back in September 2014, John Key knew that mass collection was mass surveillance. Key told reporters "...we're not collecting wholesale information… We don't have the capability for mass surveillance."

Then in March this year on RadioNZ, Key said, "I don’t even know what you mean by mass collection. I have no clue. It is not a term I have ever used. It is not something that sits in something I see."

At the same time he refused to respond to comments made by ex-director of the GCSB Bruce Ferguson. When revelations from Snowden showed the degree of spying going on in the Pacific by the GCSB, Ferguson admitted on National Radio that what the GCSB did is: "...sort of like whitebaiting and trying to catch one whitebait, you can't do it and within the net you'll get all sorts of other things - it's a mass collection."

More recently John Key appears to acknowledge that the GCSB has the capability to collect large amounts of data. However, it is not surveillance and it is not mass collection.

There seems to be a constant obfuscation of surveillance.

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