Editorial: Dotcom farce, Act IV

Last updated 13:00 27/09/2012

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OPINION: Week by week the film rights to the Kim Dotcom story must be soaring in value.

Larger than life before his arrest, Mr Dotcom's stocks as some sort of counter-establishment hero are growing. So, too, is the embarrassment to the New Zealand Government and its agencies.

The latest disclosure - that Mr Dotcom was spied on, illegally, by the Government Communications Security Bureau - is the latest, and largest, of a series of bungles in a case which might yet carry a substantial sting for the taxpayer. In their eagerness to kow-tow to an American FBI nudge to move against the internet entrepreneur, our so-called intelligence service appear to have forgotten a basic and fundamental requirement of the act that governs it: no snooping on New Zealand citizens or permanent residents.

Not our fault, says the bureau. Papers made public this week show it was asked by the police to spy on Mr Dotcom and colleague Bram van der Kolk, despite both of them being permanent residents. Presumably other agencies like the SIS are involved too.

Mr Dotcom put on one of Auckland's largest fireworks displays to celebrate gaining residency two years ago. Establishing his status ought not to have been too challenging for the nation's intrepid sleuths.

Surely some basic boxes have to be ticked before engaging the security bureau to spy on individuals in New Zealand? Is the procedure as slack as it appears? Was it a one-off lapse or has a wider problem been exposed? How much other illegal spying is going on? What will be done to ensure this doesn't happen again?

The extradition case against Mr Dotcom has yet to play out. His legal team has run rings around New Zealand agencies so far and there might well be further embarrassment to come. The raid on his Auckland mansion by armed police might be appropriate if the target was a dangerous terrorist, the High Court ruled the search warrants were invalid, the security bureau acted illegally, ACT leader John Banks has lost all credibility in the Dotcom donations scandal and Prime Minister John Key and his deputy, Bill English, are implicated for being too lax in overseeing the bureau. What farcical twist might come next is anyone's guess - although Mr Dotcom's legal team could probably answer that one. Firm hits milestone Twenty-five years is not an exceptionally long time in the history of many a company but Craig Potton Publishing had every right to celebrate reaching that milestone this week. It was fitting, too, that so many birthday guests turned up - about 200, requiring a late change of venue.

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From small beginnings the Nelson-based company now claims to be New Zealand's largest independent publishing house. Its 25th year was marked by success in the New Zealand Post book awards, with New Zealand's Native Trees judged Book of the Year.

Technology and communications changes are providing challenges for publishers. They also bring opportunities. The next 25 years will be interesting for the wider industry. Innovation will be one key. So, too, will be maintaining a focus on quality - which has been a hallmark for CPP from day one.

- The Nelson Mail

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