New GCSB bill allows spying on Kiwis video

RNZ Checkpoint

Legislation giving the country's spy agencies an explicit mandate to spy on New Zealanders has been introduced to Parliament. RNZ political editor Jane Patterson joins Checkpoint.

A new bill which gives New Zealand's security and intelligence agencies more power to spy on Kiwis is likely to be introduced this week.

Prime Minister John Key said the expansion of powers of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) was for good reason.

"If you wanted to allow GCSB to spy against a New Zealander, at the moment they can't do that," Key said on Breakfast.

PM John Key says Isis has been reaching out to Kiwis via social media.

PM John Key says Isis has been reaching out to Kiwis via social media.

"Under the new law they would be able to, under very narrow conditions, but they'd need what's called a triple-lock warrant, so they need a warrant not only from the Commissioner and from the Minister but with review from the Inspector-General."

* Expanding spy agency powers 'significant erosion of Kiwis' privacy'
* Spy agency review calls for 'Civil Union' between SIS and GCSB

A review undertaken by Sir Michael Cullen and Dame Patsy Reddy called for reform in a report released in March.

The report into the country's intelligence and security laws recommended a single piece of legislation be established to cover both the GCSB and the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) – and its authors would have recommended a merger of the two agencies if they had been allowed.

Both the GCSB and SIS have been given more resources and gone through organisational change recently, Key said.

"Most New Zealanders take a step back, and take stories that might be on the TV with a little bit of a grain of salt for very good reason. Because in the end there are people that want to do some things which we need to both understand and secondly, potentially stop.

"In a world of global terrorism where Isis is trying to reach influence into a country like New Zealand, of course on a much lower scale than they do somewhere else, we can best defend ourselves by stopping that before it ever happens."

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Isis uses social media to reach "disaffected" Kiwis, Key said, and those people were on the security watchlist.

The Prime Minister says he will make an announcement about security this afternoon.

The Green Party have described the proposals for the expansion of spy agency powers as "one of the most significant erosions in New Zealanders' privacy in recent times".

 - Stuff


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