Green light to change law to spy on Kiwis

VERNON SMALL AND ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 11:34 16/04/2013
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The Government has lifted the freeze on the Government Communications Security Bureau spying on New Zealanders in one narrow area involving defence, Prime Minister John Key said this morning.

It froze the assistance after the Kitteridge report concluded released last week it was potentially illegal, even when acting as agent for other arms of government, and in breach of the GCSB Act.

Key said the Solicitor-General had advised the partial-lifting of the freeze for national security reasons.

"It's only in relation to defence as I understand it and it's in relation to some very specific areas, I think for instance testing of equipment," he said.

"But for the most part the ban is there - it is totally there for the SIS and it's totally there for police and it is mostly there for defence."

Key today also confirmed that at least one warrant he signed for the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) related to technology that could be used in the building of weapons of mass destruction.

"One of them . . . I know I signed a warrant that was directly related to this area," he said.

"Cyber-hacking, not necessarily but that could be an element. It was in relation to what we believe was science and technology that was attempted to be exfiltrated from the individuals in New Zealand to be used in the production of weapons of mass destruction."

The prime minister rejected Labour claims that he was just scaremongering over connections to weapons of mass destruction.

He would brief the Opposition tonight at the Intelligence and Security committee tonight, but he did not expect them to change.

"They are acting like a bunch of kids," he said.

However, Labour leader David Shearer has accused Key of "sexing up" intelligence to push through GCSB legislation "in a hurry".

He said it was "weapons of mass distraction" by Key.

"Frankly, our GCSB has always been working on cyber threats and that will continue," Shearer said.

"The question is not about that. The question is about GCSB spying on New Zealanders. I believe what he is doing is sexing up the intelligence information he's got to justify him rushing through legislation without a full independent inquiry.

"Let's face it, nobody knows what the threat is because he will now not reveal any of the details."

Shearer said it was important to get cross-party support for measures.

He confirmed Labour would revisit the GCSB Act and hold an independent inquiry should it become the government next year.

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- The Dominion Post

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