Feeds

back to article NZ plans interception law refresh

Still suffering judicial criticism over its bungled spying on Kim Dotcom, the New Zealand government has announced that it will revise its telecommunications interception regime to force ISPs and telcos to co-operate with that country's Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB). Ms Adams' announcement stated that “network …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
Bronze badge

And this is the sort of situation we'll end up with in the UK if the snooper's charter ever makes it onto the books here: intelligence services unable to understand what they can and can't demand because the only bureaucratic hoops that they will have to jump through to get what they're after will consist of ticking a few boxes on a form. They'll end up with a sense of entitlement that will put the GCSB to shame. It already seems to be happening too - even before the legislation has been put into place. I know I've posted this elsewhere but I think it should be repeated:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/council-spending/9991351/Town-halls-join-rush-to-use-the-snoopers-charter.html

The so-called snooper's charter isn't even in force yet and councils are already planning on how they want to abuse it.

And isn't it interesting how 'national security' always gets lumped together with the real reason for this sort of thing? In this case 'economic well being', although how NZ's 'economic wellbeing' is determined by the amount of money being made in the US by members of the RIAA and MPAA is a bit of a puzzle to me. I suppose in this case they couldn't shriek 'It's for the children' instead but they could of at least done more to explain why it's actually needed rather than simply rely on the old catch-all of national security.

11
0
Mushroom

national security

This is the US' telecom immunity crap all over again.

The government breaks the law, for no good reason, and when it gets caught it cries "national security" and changes the law so its tyrannical authoritarian bullshit isnt illegal any more.

We ought to be outraged, but we mostly just shrug and look away ...

3
0

But fortunately, my MP has told me that I have nothing to worry about and the data collected would never be misused. Phew!

2
0

MP- Phew

Chris,

You can sleep soundly and safely now that you have had that assurance.

John will be on the job and we really will be safe from those dangerous things called File Sharing Sites.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

I'm not sure what law Mr TUANZ is on about for prison jamming from the Minister of Communications. He might be on about the poor wording in the Corrections Act which apparently overrides numerous acts including the 1989 Radio Communications Act (on the use of jammers). Those Cell Cos that have private management rights (ie all of them) would take none too kindly to having their property rights trodden on and their customers impacted. Anyway interesting times ahead when Winston Peters agrees with the National Party and not his possible coalition partners.

0
0
Bronze badge

I need help...

I just read the article, twice, and still don't understand what exactly the NZ government is wanting...or currently missing. How were the telco's/isp's NOT dealing with the government in the first place for this topic to come up? Wasn't the dotcom case just a fumble, and as we all know, fumbles can and will occur.

Of course, thinking that MegaUpload was somehow a national terrorist group that warrants this type of government intervention is another story.

BTW, the new Mega is no where near the old Mega as far as copyright piracy, it exists, but is very minimal in comparison. So, maybe Mega is finally turning true white collar now that the "cloud" is potentially a lifetime money maker for Kim.

0
0

Re: I need help...

I'm from New Zealand and I don't know either.

In very general terms, as far as I can tell there was a mistake made. Some people have learned that what they did is not, in fact, legal (but only just), and so nothing of the sort is going to happen again.

But there have been a handful of people with big mouths "absolutely outraged" about a real or perceived slight to their (or others') rights, and so not only must heads roll but there has to be more law, and new rules at that, so that there is liable to be more misunderstandings and mistakes.

It's almost as though there are too many people for the work they (the government) have to do, so they get bored and try to make things better, really just making it more difficult for the rest of us.

0
0

Re: I need help...

I think the way it works is this, in basic principle the GCSB is not allowed to spy on New Zealanders (including PR holders like Dotcom) but it is also required to help agencies such as the police and SIS who are allowed to 'spy' on New Zealanders.

So, if you squint really hard you can sort of say that these two things are in conflict and it is a 'grey area', maybe.

The proposed rules give the GCSB the right to spy wherever, whenever on whoever.

Wonderful, I feel safer already.

2
0
Boffin

Re: I need help...

I'm from NZ as well.. but think I understand the point of all this.

The GCSB are/were not allowed to spy on New Zealand citizens. Makes sense - most countries have similar rules (such as the CIA not able to operate internally in the US). For internal threats, you use the police who are kept inline by the justice system. Spy agencies have no oversight except for the (political) government, so you don't want them doing whatever the PM feels like - i.e. go dig up some dirt on <political opponent X>

It turns out when looking at 'who can the GCSB spy on', that there were other grey areas. For instance they can't tap a NZ phone line or cell phone calls without a warrant, but apparently it is OK to ask telco's where a cell-phone was or what calls were made to/from to a landline. If the cell or landline belongs to a NZ citizen are they able to spy? God knows in the case of Kim Dot Com where one house might have 4 people, half are NZ citizens, half not.

I think John Key is going the wrong way here in response. If the agency you are responsible for is found to be breaking the law, failing to do their job, the answer is probably not to simply make a law change and make it legal, but to fix the problem.

If Kim (a NZ citizen) was breaking laws in NZ, then let the police handle it. Why the hell is a spy agency who are supposed to be looking at threats to NZ from external forces, getting involved with helicopter raids for somebody who at worst has committed or helped with copyright violations in some other country? And if the GCSB was getting involved out of boredom or whatever, why did John Key either not know or approve of it?

5
0
Silver badge

It is really fixing something that was in the grey area

It was unclear whether or not the GCSB could do work for government agencies (police etc). The police and GCSB always thought they could, but the courts ruled that they were not allowed to.

The law is being clarified to reflect the original intentions of the law makers.

Of course the opposition will make a bun-fight over this. That is all the opposition ever does, It is telling that the broken law was introduced when the opposition was in power.

0
2
Silver badge

Re: I need help...

The NZ police were legitimately investigating KDC. They lack some of the technical expertise to do some of the investigating and called on the GCSB to help.

The GCSB choose to investigate various people on their own bat (ie. as spies) and when they do this, they are only allowed to spy on foreigners. The "grey area" was whether or not they could lend their services to other government agencies.

It makes sense to allow them to do this. No point in having the NZ Police replicate the skillset.

1
4

This post has been deleted by its author

Anonymous Coward

Re: I need help...

I'm NOT from NZ .. but think thus is the thun odge of the wodge.

3
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: I need help...

Couple of minor points GrantB, Kim's a permanent resident, not a citizen. But all the points you made about who the GCSB are allowed to spy are apply to both citizens and permanent residents. Speaking as someone who was a PR and is now a citizen, there is very little difference. As a PR you get to vote, and have all the usual rights to benefits etc. I think it's only serving your country in the armed forces or as a MP that requires you to be a citizen.

As I understand the issue was that GCSB (and the police) would consult their own legal peeps about what they could and couldn't do, their legal peeps decided that it was OK. Whether this was done because they misunderstood Kim's residency status, or because their legal opinions where not actually based on any actual cases.

Both the GCSB and the cops are very bad at actually seeking an independent legal opinion on their actions. The legal status of "pinging" a cell phone location and obtaining cellphone movement records without a warrant is a grey area, as it is not clear if that information is private, but getting the texts or calls does require a warrant.

The cellphone blocking tech is huge stupid project, that indeed may in fact be illegal, despite the passing of the law allowing it. Pumping out huge amounts of interference not only affects civilians, but there are some human rights concerns over exposing prisoners to it may have some long term repercussions. Plus it's massively over budget (2 billion and counting from an initial budget of 150 mil IIRC) the company that sells it employs the staff at Corrections who oversee the budget, and it doesn't work. Well, it works on quite a lot of cellphones, but there are combinations of phones and carriers that do work. Not well for voice, but fine for texting. Amazingly some prisoners figured this out. Each time they find another way around it, the company pumps the power up a bit more, and bills Corrections for another million bucks.

The other great case for the police was the "terrorist camps" one. So the boys in blue had been (for years) gathering evidence using cameras without warrants, as long as the camera was located in a public area. Locating it in a private area did require a warrant. The reasoning (again from the internal legal advice) was that the rules governing what an officer can see from a public space is admissible, ie plod is walking down the street, and sees you breaking into a car on private property, and that the *public* have rights to record (photos, video and sound) pretty much what they like if they are in a public area. However, this got challenged in court, and the judge ruled that targeted police surveillance did not fall under the remit of a private individual taking recordings. This caused some issues as it turns out the plod had been doing this for years (300+ cases) and some plod criticised the judge because of this. Rather than actually bothering to do the paperwork to get warrants and convince someone from Justice that their cause is legit. Which probably would have failed in the "terrorist" case, but probably would have passed for most of those other cases.

The "terrorist" case and Kim's are both pretty much directly as a result of John Key's desperate desire to show how much he can lick his American masters boots. You may have noticed quite a few countries who are part of the anglo-american alliance who put terrorist legislation on the books seemed to want to test out some prosecutions with it. With Kim it was trying to emulate the FBI, make accusation, seize all assets, delay trial for as long as possible. Might not actually win the case, but you get your punishment in up front.

As a side note on all this terrorism legislation, I'm lost as to what it is for other than suppressing political dissent. There seemed to be plenty of existing laws on the books that cover those crimes. In fact the only thing the NZ domestic terrorist where convicted of (IIRC) where normal laws covering owning and using automatic weapons. Or maybe it's just legitimising the actions of certain states.

Anon since I consult for Corrections and Justice now and again.

1
0
JC_
Bronze badge

Re: It is really fixing something that was in the grey area

Of course the opposition will make a bun-fight over this. That is all the opposition ever does

You say that like it's a bad thing.

It is telling that the broken law was introduced when the opposition was in power.

The PM & govt were in power at the time the Dotcom affair happened; it's their mess and their responsibility.

0
0
Facepalm

Re: I need help...

GCSB illegally spied on a NZ permanent resident. Through the "mistake" of not checking his residency status. No warrant was obtained, so no oversight by the judicary. This illegally evidence was then used to bring a prosecution, including an immediate seizure of assets. It's pretty black and white, none of this barely illegal stuff. GCSB broke the letter and the spirit of the law. Just because the police ask you to do something alas does not make the act quasi-legal.

That doesn't appear to be a "slight" upon anyone's rights. It seems to be a complete removal of your rights if GCSB decides not to check if you're not a real kiwi.

Unless NZ turned into a police state while my back was turned, we still have some rights. Such as not having your private communications intercepted without a judge's order.

The law change is being put through so that they can legally spy on citizens (and submit it as evidence) and putting the conditions of what they can do, procedures for co-operating with other agencies and so on. It would be nice if it clarified exactly what is and isn't private data, file content versus file metadata etc. This is instead of the current situation where there is a contradiction in what GCSB is supposed to do in cases of domestic spying.

In a more populous country, the domestic spying powers would belong to something like the FBI (so maybe OFCANZ?) but as you need a reasonable sized and skilled team to run the program it is not viable to employ them to just do domestic. Hence how the current system of the police requesting ad hoc support from GCSB came about. However, the procedure was not set out, so it was not clear who was supposed to check if the requested spying was in fact legal. The police blamed GCSB (as it's GCSBs restriction on who they can spy) and GCSB blamed the police for not having gone through the proper channels to get a warrant for KDC.

I am under no illusions that the illegal spying done by the cops and GCSB will stop (just that they won't be using it as evidence) or that they won't be able to find some friendly or technically illiterate judge to sign off what they want to do. I would imagine if they where pursuing someone who was committing an actual serious crime that even a skeptical judge would grant them intercept powers.

Hence why the legislature is working on revising the law to clear these things up. That is pretty much the work that legislature does. So I'm not quite sure what your last sentence is about. Parliament does no work other than passing budgets, passing laws, revising laws, and very very very rarely repealing laws. The "work" of the government is done by agencies (GCSB, police, Justice, Corrections, Education, Social Affairs etc) never by parliament. The judiciary is separate again, but is still a branch of the government.

From my observations in a variety of government departments, they are either really busy with the current work, or a bunch of work-shy jobsworths. Sometimes in the same department. Neither group gets bored and then sets out to create more work.

2
0
WTF?

Re: I need help...

<sarcasm>

You are quite right, we have a lot of needless duplication of effort.

We should just get rid of the police, and have GCSB and the NZDF take over their responsibilities.

The NZDF do all the heavy lifting anyway. They trained pretty much all the police, they fly the helis for the annual waste of money marihuana round up, and when a nutter holes up with an armory they are the ones who show up in the APC.

The armed offender units are pretty much staffed by ex-SAS anyway.

Because dividing our external military efforts and domestic civilian is not at all important to democracy. Never in history has a military been used against it's own people.

</sarcasm>

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: I need help...

I have it on good authority that this is what happened - GCSB made the assumption that Dotcom was not a citizen, and they were wrong.

I'm also told the head of GCSB was asked to investigate him directly by John Keys after a request from the FBI, and then when the shit hit the fan Mr. Keys did his "who, me?", denied the meeting completely and left them out to dry. A lot of senior people at GCSB are extremely ticked off with Mr. Keys as a result.

Many were fired, many more resigning, and those that remain are likely putting a bit of distance between themselves and their PM.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: I need help...

Meh - John Key, not John Keys. Clearly I have been away quite a while.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: I need help...

Do you really think John Key didn't know?

This is the same prime minister who announced his intention to move offshore if he fails relection - to a gated community in Hawaii.

What makes you think he has any care about the long term future of New Zealand?

1
0
Silver badge

Re: I need help...

"Unless NZ turned into a police state while my back was turned, we still have some rights. Such as not having your private communications intercepted without a judge's order."

Back in the 1990s, someone noticed that some panes of glass in the windows of the building facing the trades union hall (police headquarters) were mismatched.

Several infrared photos later, it was clear that the police had setup surveillance cameras watching not only the entrances, but also pointing into the windows of every single floor of the building. Unsurprisingly they were behind the (as it turned out, infrared-transparent) mismatched window panes.

This is the same NZ police whose chief repeatedly called protesters against various issues "Subversives" in national media during the 1980s and 1990s

You were saying?

1
0

Re: I need help...

John Key has been caught lying about the illegal activities of the spy department he's personally responsible for.

So to hide from responsibility he and his mates are pretending that a clear and unambiguous breach of the law governing GCSB spying was just a silly little administrative blunder and they'll fix it by making it legal for the GCSB to spy on New Zealanders.

This is exactly what they did when the NZ police were caught ignoring their legal responsibilities regarding spying on suspects - the National government made it legal (although in that case it did make more sense).

There is no accountability for authority when it breaks the law, and in the unfortunate absence of an effective opposition likely little accountability at ballots either - not that elites tend to hold each pother accountable anyway.

The most ridiculous thing about this is the nonsensical argument Key is making that we have to stop cyber-theft of our terrible secrets about weapons. Yes he really argues that New Zealand has terrible secrets about WMD's that need to be protected from theft by a change in law that already allows GCSB to spy on people suspected of that to let them spy on anybody for other reasons.

When we know that 100% of all the people we know the GCSB has illegally spied on are not, were not, and never have been a threat to NZs security.

Those people they spied on illegally were probably not spies or potential terrorists but anti-government activists, environmental protestors and the like.

This new law will be an effective combining of our Police, SIS and GCSB into one agency with unlimited authority to spy.

2
0

previously the GSCB was usually only used in ad hoc situations usually as a last resort when someone personally knew someone from way back who might be able come up with something - this new legislation will make it the first place to call and will expand its use into any sort of activity the government frowns upon.

0
0
Gold badge

Classic government solution

"In order to ensure our spy agencies do not operate illegally, we legalise what they did wrong"

I'm not sure what worries me most: the fact that they legalise a wrong to make it "right" or the fact that they don't see a problem with this approach..

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Nobody is mentioning speccy five eyes

Except blogs like this http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2013/04/16/keys-intel-reform-cyber-security-is-a-five-eyed-trojan-horse/ where they have this memorable assertion "The New Zealand public’s right to liberty, as they say, is small beer when considering the global picture..."

It seems that the UKUSA plus whoever else is now on board is/has been able to start targeted surveillance in countries far-away for US economic interests alone, or is Hollywood an anagram for CyberSecurity?

2
0
Big Brother

Re: Nobody is mentioning speccy five eyes

I think you'll find that NZ has been on board with UKUSA since about, oh, 1946,

when NZ was part of the Melbourne Sigint Centre with UK and AU. [Source: UKUSA documents declassified in 2010.]

1
0
g e
Silver badge
Coat

Headline sounded like

"Spineless Kiwi Government agrees to make policy at behest of Big Media" inside my head though admittedly that could well be unfair.

It just conjured up an image of a Mandelson-esque figure in Kiwi politics doing an abrupt U-turn on their own policy after an free all-inclusive weekend at a super-luxury Italian Hotel with David Geffen.

Coat got in case I actually am being unfair to our Kiwi cousins ;o)

1
0
Thumb Up

Re: Headline sounded like

Mandelson might be evil, but he's at least semi-competant.

John Key is a spineless puppet. A fricking investment banker, made his fortune betting against the NZ dollar (for a now bankrupt bank), is a millionaire several times over but "doesn't consider himself rich". He's busy privatising the power companies for his merry mates. So we can look forward to greater taxes and higher power prices.

He deserves all the vitriol he can get.

3
0
Anonymous Coward

NZ plod and super-5-eyes-teflon plods

should solve their jail telecoms problems by doing the opposite of 'illegal' jamming.

Invite a university in to do an urgent experimental RF baseline profile at the prison, then equip the prison with it's own judicially approved 3G home nodeB's and 2G BTS - either borrowed from a telecom provider or OpenBTS, then route the traffic to the telecom network through a pen-registering MiTM. Don't store any traffic - just log who calls, when and to whom.

In Asia some terror cells have been run from prison by VoIP - it's better to use the potential intel rather than try an ineffective DoS that annoys the neighbors. I'm sure a 'loud' prison based BTS/3Gmicrocell would calm the problems - especially if the service provider identity was 'Mount Eden Telecom MiTM'

0
0
This topic is closed for new posts.