By Russel Norman
The freedom to go about our everyday lives without being spied on and harassed by the Government is really important, and that’s why we have laws to protect it.
Kiwis should be able to go about their daily lives without fearing that their phones are bugged, that they’re being filmed or even followed.
New Zealand is not supposed to be the type of country where that kind of thing goes on.
That’s why the Green Party is so concerned that the Government Communications Security Bureau illegally taped private conversations of a New Zealand resident.
We have complained to the police asking them to investigate the taping of Kim Dotcom’s conversations.
But we shouldn’t have had to.
John Key was quick to call the cops when he was tape-recorded in a café talking to ACT’s John Banks.
When his own spy agency did the same thing but in a far more secretive way the response has been weak.
Instead of ordering a proper independent investigation he got Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Paul Neazor to do a report. Given that one of Justice Neazor’s main jobs is to ensure that the GCSB acts lawfully, a job that he failed to ensure on this occasion, he was clearly not the right person to do the job.
We need the police to investigate and charge whoever at GCSB is responsible for breaking this law.
There are serious issues around upholding law and individuals who breach the law being held accountable for that.
There also needs to be a wider inquiry looking at the overall systemic failures in order to give the public confidence that this doesn’t happen all the time.
The other thing we are very concerned about is the ministerial oversight.
John Key is the minister responsible for the GCSB. His approach is to be hands-off but he actually has an important role monitoring what this agency which operates under a screen of secrecy does. In fact John Key is the only democratically elected official with any oversight over the GCSB – parliament can’t scrutinize it, nor can the media.
If John Key is just too ‘relaxed’ to monitor the GCSB to ensure that it doesn’t steal our freedoms, then he should give the job to someone who cares a bit more about keeping the surveillance state in check.
Russel Norman is co-leader of the Green Party