GSCB Bill explained

In between interruptions and attempted justifications from John Campbell, Prime Minister John Key explained the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) Amendment Bill.

Do people care?

“We got 124 submissions on the GCSB bill, and 30,000 on snapper,” he says.

Mr Key says he spends a lot of time touring the country, but the GCSB bill is not a topic that comes up in his discussions.

“People do not raise GCSB. I have public meetings, I have question sessions at everything I do. I probably have half a dozen meetings a day with public engaging with people…People don’t raise this issue,” he tells Campbell Live. . .

Whether or not people care, doesn’t change the facts:

*  The GCSB will need to obtain a warrant from the Commissioner of High Security Warrants – a retired court judge appointed by Mr Key.

* The surveillance of] Kim Dotcom was illegal under the old law and it’s illegal under the new law.

* Mr Key says some discussion around the bill has been misrepresented, and the organisation will not be able to spy on New Zealanders.

* the original problems with the GCSB stem from a section passed by the Labour Government in 2003.

Another couple of points from the video (at about 18:15)
* The only legal things they [GCSB] can do is provide assistance, and they do that about nine times a year.
* Anything else they might do in cyber searches would require a warrant, they wouldn’t have access to content and it would be a bit like virus protection.
Some other points not covered in the interview:

The Bill clarifies the law that the GCSB operates under.

* The GCSB had been assisting other agencies like the NZSIS, Defence and Police for years, under the previous Labour Government as well as under the National-led Government. The Labour administration knew about this activity and signed off on it.

* The GCSB believed that it was operating within the law at all times, but it is now clear that there are difficulties in interpretation in the law.

* The Prime Minister is responsible for for national security and takes it seriously. That’s why the Government is moving to clarify the law so that it is legally clear the GCSB can assist other agencies, as it has done for years.

This Bill won’t change what can be done, the SIS can do anything the Bill would permit the GCSB to do.

This isn’t a debate about whether a particular New Zealander will have intelligence gathered about them and about their activities.

It will happen with appropriate oversight and safeguards.

The question is whether the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) does it, or if GCSB does it under a warrant gained by the SIS.

The GCSB has the capability to do it now, the SIS doesn’t. If the Bill isn’t enacted what would have been done by the GCSB will be done by the SIS, more expensively.

I thought the Prime Minister won the debate, so did Gravedodger who reviews the interview here.

But it’s not only those of us in the blue corner who weren’t impressed with the interviewing.

Whaleoil found this on Twitter:

@JohnJCampbell Raving is not interviewing, John. A graceless and embarrassing performance. This from your greatest fan. Brian





28 Responses to GSCB Bill explained

  1. Gravedodger says:

    John Campbell’s gambit to employ “News Creation” as a plank in his personal vendetta against what is in effect only a tidying measure that improves clarity, legality, plus much more oversight and process, in an act that has been operating in a legal nomans land for over a decade, was systematically destroyed in the 17 minutes of TV that should become compulsory foundation basic practice, for all aspiring Journalists.
    Also many of the lazy pop culture practising people posing as opinion writers and investigative reporters should take on board the charade the ever expanding cultural bent to unquestioningly repeat messages prepared by the best their profession has discovered who have gone from reporter to publicity spokesperson.

    Brian Edwards was so brutal in his reaction to the worst moment in a career that is squandering a golden opportunity to nail down the 1900- 1930 timeslot for NZ TV for the always struggling alternative channel.

    That disaster would have had JC’s bosses reeling like Fonterras management must be.


  2. jabba says:

    if I was Campbell, I would be cruising the situation vacant sites .. he was a shocker


  3. […] GSCB Bill explained ( […]


  4. Viv K says:

    So John Key is right about the GCSB bill and everyone else is wrong, except when John Key is wrong on Campbell Live and then emails the Herald to explain how he was wrong, but it doesn’t matter because we can trust him not to do the wrong thing or make a mistake, even though he’s very busy running the country. Time to kick the GCSB bill into touch.


  5. JRM.says, Campbell was at his most rude and obnoxious waspleased the P.M. handled it so well and wiped the floor with J.C. who was able to show his far left outlook ! A real dawk!


  6. Viv K says:

    John Key either lied or he doesn’t understand the GCSB bill. His fans may have enjoyed his performance, but he misled the audience when he said incorrectly that under the bill, the GCSB would not be allowed to look at the content of communications when conducting their cyber-security functions. In fact, there is nothing that prevents it from doing so. So stop getting so excited about the PM’s arrogant interview style, he got it wrong. The man who claimed everyone else was wrong, either doesn’t understand the bill himself, or he lied to the country on Campbell Live.


  7. TraceyS says:

    So John Campbell clearly doesn’t understand the bill then? Because otherwise he’d have taken up the opportunity to make mincemeat of the PM. What I understood from the discussion was that a warrant is needed to look at contents, whereas it is not needed to pick up traces of communications. Maybe this is wrong? Perhaps you could better inform me Viv. Please refer to specific sections so that I may see for myself.


  8. Viv K says:

    I have put up links to articles in the NZ Herald from Audrey Young and Rodney Harrison QC which explain this Tracey. Dr Harrison’s includes references to the relevant sections of the bill.

    Audrey Young’s article.

    Rodney Harrison’s article.

    John Key either knew he was lying or he doesn’t understand the bill. If it is the latter, then that’s another reason not to rush it through. If he is lying, that’s not good.

    “So John Campbell clearly doesn’t understand the bill then? Because otherwise he’d have taken up the opportunity to make mincemeat of the PM.” This is about law Tracey, I’m not going off on one of your tangents to talk about John Campbell, he isn’t the issue.


  9. […] is empowering John Key for calling his TV performance that of a psychopath sit alongside the rights exuberance at busily denigrating John Campbell; they all belie the fact that nothing the Prime Minister said […]


  10. TraceyS says:

    I think he was talking about how things would operate in practice and in so doing was furnishing ordinary people with much needed information.

    Our laws provide all sorts of permissions and protections but that doesn’t mean that they will always be used at the maximum of what they permit. For example, as an employer I can operate under Section 67 probationary provisions of the Employment Relations Act or choose not to use them at all, or to use them for a shorter period than 90 days. Just because the provisions are there doesn’t mean that they will be used in every instance or at the maximum end of what they allow all of the time and for any purpose.

    According to Harrison “Under section 14 the GCSB when performing its 8B intelligence-gathering function is forbidden from deliberately targeting New Zealanders for the purpose of intercepting their “private communications”.

    He then goes on to say:

    “However, that definitely does not mean the communications of all in New Zealand are safe from “wholesale spying” by the GCSB, let alone by New Zealand’s security partners.”

    Or let alone any other party. To give people the expectation that any of their electronic communications are completely “safe” is misleading. No one can guarantee that.

    Young writes:

    “Cyber security today

    Under the present law, if the GCSB detected an intrusion into the IRD cyber system, it could track its source if it were overseas, or if it were from the computer of a foreigner in NZ but not if it were from the computer of a Kiwi.

    Cyber security tomorrow

    Under the proposed law, if the GCSB detected an intrusion into the IRD cyber system it could track its source whether abroad, without a warrant, or in NZ with a warrant, which John Key says would not access the communications’ content. If the Kiwi’s computer was suspected as being an unwitting host of a remote attacker abroad, the GCSB would alert the Kiwi to get permission to access his or her computer content. If a person was suspected of being involved in the attack, the GCSB would get a warrant to look at the content.”

    What IS the problem with that?


  11. Viv K says:

    John Key was wrong in the Campbell Live interview when he said that the GCSB wouldn’t be able to spy on New Zealanders. He either lied or doesn’t understand his own bill, both options are seriously worrying to NZ citizens who don’t know if the PM is dishonest or uninformed. You asked for more information, I refered you to the Herald articles. Rodney Harrison QC explains which sections of the bill would permit such spying, that’s what you said you wanted to be better informed about. John Key said, via the Audrey Young article, that we can just trust him, even though he has those powers he won’t neccesarily use them. It is totally unacceptable for this government to rush through draconian mass surveillance laws, for John Key to mislead NZ about them and then turn around and basically say ‘OK, turns out we can spy on you, but don’t worry, trust me, we won’t’. You’ve gone off on yet another tangent, IRD and cybercrime this time, while you completely ignore the issue of whether Key lied or didn’t understand his own bill.


  12. jabba says:

    well Viv .. as John Key is a liar and has no idea what he is doing, why don’t you challenge him or one of his MPs and stand at the election next year?
    Guyton did it v Bill English a few years ago so give it a go.


  13. Viv K says:

    I don’t know if he is a liar OR he doesn’t know what he is doing. Do you? I’m in the Dunedin North electorate, we already have a very good MP in David Clarke. I’ll just continue in my current role of concerned citizen thanks jabba.


  14. TraceyS says:

    The IRD quote was from Audrey Young’s article which you referred me to Viv.


  15. TraceyS says:

    I don’t know how others feel, Viv, but my opinion is this – if you’re not sure of what you’re saying, don’t say it. Especially when you are making an accusation.


  16. Viv K says:

    I know, I have read the article. You decided not to comment on whether John Key had lied or just didn’t understand his bill. Instead you asked a question about something else. That’s what you often do I’ve noticed. The IRD example seems perfectly reasonable. I just chose to stay focused and on topic which is what I like to do.


  17. Armchair Critic says:

    In that case I’ll go for the quinella. He’s lying, and he also doesn’t know what he’s doing. 🙂


  18. TraceyS says:

    Gambler are you AC?


  19. TraceyS says:

    Your opinion of the PM’s performance matters as much to me as my opinion of John Campbell’s performance matters to you. Very little in other words.


  20. Viv K says:

    Maybe you are not the only other person who reads the comments on Ele’s blog.I’ve never thought that you did care about my opinion Tracey. But for the record, I’d like to point out that throughout this thread my comments have been about the “substance’ of what Mr Key said, not his style/performance.
    He was incorrect when he said that the GCSB wouldn’t be able to spy on New Zealanders.


  21. Viv K says:

    I’ve no idea why you should think I’m not sure about what I’m saying.


  22. TraceyS says:

    To quote you:

    “I don’t know if he is a liar OR he doesn’t know what he is doing.”

    You said yourself you don’t know.

    If you don’t know then you should be careful with what you say.


  23. Viv K says:

    I am being careful what I say .I don’t know WHICH one is correct. It’s one or the other.


  24. jabba says:

    the paranoid are having a meeting in the Akl Town Hall tonight .. I see Winny will be there .. good grief


  25. ploughboy says:

    did it ever occur to you viv that its you that doesnt understand the bill not john key


  26. Viv K says:

    No it isn’t ploughboy, go and read Audrey Young’s herald article, there is a link in this comments thread.


  27. Armchair Critic says:



  28. Armchair Critic says:

    It would be consistent of you to apply the same rationale to Ele; just this morning she asked “what is so special about NZers?”


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