NEW ZEALAND: Threat to Net Privacy Appears

E.J. DE LARA WRITES – Imagine any phone conversation, text message or other form of communication people use daily. Now imagine a law that lets Big Brother monitor it all.

Throughout June, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key pushed for a new bill that would essential do that — allowing the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) to spy on citizens with a surveillance warrant.

According to Dominion Post, the proposed bill would offer more protection by allowing the GCSB to spy on people for government purposes. Further, the Post assured that it will not be abused, but many Parliament representatives and critics see loopholes. NZ First Leader Winston Peters claims that the bill will give the PM the ability to call for any warrants and thinks a committee or procedure should be established for regulation.

Even without the new bill, Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Kitteridge reviewed the GCSB recently and found that in the past 10 years, the agency has spied on 88 New Zealanders. Knowing this, many critics fear the further invasion of privacy.

InternetNZ acting CEO Jordan Carter believes that “The GCSB Bill lacks sufficient legal safeguards for Internet users’ right to privacy.”  So far, 60 members of Parliament are behind the bill, which may change with upcoming committee hearings.

Throughout the next few weeks, PM John Key and the Intelligence Security Committee will hear submissions on the legislation. Kim Dotcom, an Internet business owner, will be one of the first people to make his case, as his company has been spied on by the government before. After these hearings, the committee will report back to Parliament by the end of July, possibly leading to the bill’s passage.

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