GSCB Bill Passes

by Desk Editor on Wednesday, August 21, 2013 — 7:46 PM

Laws under which the Government Communications Security Bureau and other spy agencies operate have passed into law after a series of fiery speeches.

The Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill split into three bills completed its third reading by 61 to 59 with National, ACT and United Future in support.

Leading off the debate, Prime Minister John Key said the “essential” bill had attracted much alarmist comment and some people opposed intelligence agency work in principle.

As Prime Minister he was aware of the need for the agencies work as there were real and present threats and it was the job of the Government to protects its citizens. He was unable to disclose details because it would jeopardise ongoing work, however if he could it would cut much opposition to the bill zero.

This bill was to sort out problems with the original law and its governance of the GCSB. It did not allow for mass surveillance and the bill made this clear, Key said.

David Shearer said he welcomed Key coming to the House, but instead of saying what the bill did in the third reading speech, he should write it into the law first.

Modern technology could be used to pry into people’s lives, and while they could be used by the agencies for good there had to be confidence in those agencies and laws to protect people as well, he said.

The way the GCSB bill was written and passed through Parliament meant the focus of the bill was on the power of the agencies, whereas the process should have worked to build confidence and protections. In a time when international focus was on privacy issues New Zealand had a chance to lead the way, but the Government had failed. Labour had been open to negotiations and wanted a full inquiry, but Key had not been interested.

If Labour was elected it would hold a review and replace the law with a world leading one.

After the debate, MPs began the committee stage of the Inquiries Bill.
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