Kim Dotcom rails against spy agency powers

ANDREA VANCE IN BEIJING
Last updated 05:18 22/06/2013
Kim Dotcom
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KIM DOTCOM: "Right thinking New Zealanders might repose trust in their government thinking that they will not be the subjects of unwarranted surveillance - expecting that only citizens who pose a real and significant threat will be in the cross hairs."

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Tech mogul Kim Dotcom says new powers handed to spy agencies are unjustified, "privacy destroying" and "anti-human rights."

And he wants new legislation to prevent spies sharing information about Kiwis with foreign powers, without authorisation from the courts or Parliament.

The internet piracy accused has made a written submission to Parliament's intelligence and Security committee hearing from the public on the new Government Communications Security Bureau amendment Bill.

He wants to appear before MPs considering the bill, along with co-accused Bram van der Kolk.

Dotcom says the new legislation gives virtually unlimited power to the GCSB "to surveil us all at the whim of the Prime Minister" and share it with foreign spy agencies.

The bureau is "dysfunctional" and has failed at every turn and oversight would be "limited or non existent."

His lawyers uncovered illegal surveillance of the Megaupload boss in their fight against his extradition to the US. The Kitteridge report later found the foreign intelligence agency may have illegally spied on more than 80 Kiwis.

The government has now moved to beef up the GCSB's power to allow them to undertake surveillance of New Zealanders on behalf of other agencies, such as the police or Security Intelligence Service.

However, Dotcom's submission argues the legislation goes much further than clarifying the law and considerably expands the GCSB's powers.

Dotcom and van der Kolk say the illegal spying, unlawful raid on their Coatesville home and arrest represent "an extreme present day example of what can happen when the Government and intelligence agencies misuse or misunderstand their powers."

However, the pair say they recognise the "crucial" role spy agencies play in protecting the public from security threats.

"Right thinking New Zealanders might repose trust in their government thinking that they will not be the subjects of unwarranted surveillance - expecting that only citizens who pose a real and significant threat will be in the cross hairs," the submission says. "But our own story shows that it is not just terrorists and extremists that can be targeted."

Dotcom says the government should take more time to consider the legislation - and the related Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Bill, which forces telcos to co-operate with spies. And he backs a call from Opposition parties for an inquiry.

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He referred to the recent PRISM spying scandal, noting some US congressmen were not even aware of the controversial programme.

And a clause which allows inadvertently obtained intelligence about a Kiwi by the GCSB to be shared gives "a wide open back door" to surveillance without warrants, he said.

"This is exactly what is going on in the US where it is causing furore. US citizens' private information is being indiscriminately hoovered up by the NSA and used in its PRISM programme, which is ostensibly operating for the purposes of foreign intelligence gathering."

The new bill does not offer sufficient checks on the GCSB's activities, and recommends judicial or more parliamentary oversight, he says.

The authority to assist other law enforcement agencies would be better vested in the SIS because it is not part of the Five Eyes internation intelligence alliance.

"We have no confidence that the GCSB once it obtains information in assisting other law enforcement bodies, will not share that information with overseas entities."

The bill also gives GCSB new powers to gather and intercept information about "information infrastructures" but with clear definition of what that means or any boundaries, the submission argues.

- Fairfax Media

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