Spies have not come in from the cold…
Extra powers given to the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) threaten to kneecap the growth of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry in New Zealand at a time when the public’s trust in the spy agency is at an all-time low, the Green Party said today.
The Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Bill passed its final reading in the House today. This bill provides access, with very limited oversight, for an unprecedented level of surveillance capability by the Security Intelligence Service (SIS), the GCSB and the New Zealand Police. It also gives the GCSB unprecedented powers of veto over how ICT companies are able to operate.
“Today represents a huge lost opportunity for New Zealand’s ICT industry,” said Green Party security and intelligence spokesperson Steffan Browning.
“Our ICT sector is now being forced to open their doors to the GCSB and get the GCSB’s sign-off before making changes to their network.
“Effectively, the Government has just handed over the central planning of our telecommunications industry to a spy agency.
“The law imposes massive compliance costs on ICT companies and will restrict the way some of these companies are able to run. Many will be left with no choice but to close, or move offshore.
“New Zealand has an opportunity to be a world leader in the telecommunications industry. Instead, the National Government has just kneecapped this industry.
“The National Government has pushed through these changes at a time when the public’s trust in security agencies is at an all-time low amidst ongoing revelations of global mass surveillance.
“Rather than taking a stand and promoting New Zealand as a leader in privacy and security, the Government is kowtowing to the United States and changing our spy laws in order to facilitate this global surveillance state.”