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Dotcom more popular than Banks

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 12:02 11/10/2012

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The public has taken a "dim view" of ACT leader John Banks and are more agreeable to Kim Dotcom, a new poll shows.

Almost three quarters of New Zealanders viewed Banks "unfavourably," 14 per cent saw him unfavourably, 13 per cent were unsure - and two per cent have never heard of him.

The internet millionaire was more popular - 38 per cent of the those polled by UMR Research had favourable opinions, compared to 36 per cent who saw him unfavourably. 

The pair were publicly linked when Dotcom revealed he had given a $50,000 donation to Banks' 2010 campaign to be Auckland mayor, which was later registered anonymous. Police investigated but did not press charges.

Banks' reputation also took a hammering during last year's election campaign when a cameraman recorded a 'private' conversation with Prime Minister John Key during a 'cup of tea' publicity stunt.

Again police were called in but the cameraman was not charged.

UMR said only two party leaders have tracked worse than Banks since 1996: NZ First leader Winston Peters, in 1997, and Tau Henare, who fronted Mauri Pacific, in 1999.

Both were accused of ''cynically manipulating the electoral system.''

UMR Research director Gavin White said the numbers showed New Zealanders ''take a dim view of politicians who they see as cynically manipulating the electoral system for their own ends.

"The tea-tape fiasco and controversy about so-called anonymous donations to the 2010 mayoral campaign have clearly painted John Banks in this light.''

Dotcom is currently fighting extradition to the US on internet piracy charges but an over-the-top joint police and FBI raid and a series of blunders - including illegal search warrants and unlawful spying on the German millionaire - have gained him some public sympathy.

The poll was conducted between September 27 to October 2, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 per cent.

Meanwhile, Dotcom has claimed the GCSB was enlisted to spy on him to give US authorities access to his communications and says several cameras were secretly installed around his home.

"The interesting part is that the GCSB is one of the five partners in the Echelon project, the global spying project," he told website TorrentFreak.

"They are prying on every type of communication they can get their hands on, from wireless, to Internet, to satellite, to telephone."

The National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States belongs to the Echelon network, which allows partners real-time access to intelligence.

He said it was "nonsense" the spying took place so police could locate him ahead of the January 20 raid.

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"The GCSB was utilised to surveil all my communication in order to give the U.S. Government full access to all my communication, without the requirement of a warrant, and without the ability for me to get access to transcripts or discovery," he said.

"The U.S. has used this GCSB surveillance to get real-time access to my phone calls, Internet traffic and everything, and I can't do anything about it.

"They refuse to cooperate with the court and say it's all national security," he adds.

- The Dominion Post

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