Why are NZers special?

In all the discussion about whether or not the GCSB Bill allows the agency to spy on New Zealanders, I have yet to find an explanation as to why it shouldn’t.

What’s so special about New Zealanders?

We don’t live in a benign world. and sadly some of our number could be as likely to commit acts of terrorism as people from any other country.

I would be very concerned about an agency having the unfettered right to spy on anyone.

But I have none about the police, GCSB, Defence or SIS having the right to spy on us – with the appropriate safeguards to ensure that such action was undertaken only when it was essential and in the interests of public safety.

15 Responses to Why are NZers special?

  1. tiffany267 says:

    Sorry, Ele. I cannot follow you anymore.

    Goodbye.

  2. Andrei says:

    We don’t live in a benign world.

    And a lot of the malevolence in this world is sourced from politicians.

    Its all well and good for them to utter soothing platitudes – “trust us we know what we are doing” sort of thing when anyone with a brain and even superficial knowledge of history knows that these people are neither trustworthy nor do they really know what they are doing.

  3. Andrei says:

    Tiffany, in this world there will always be people who hold views that are different and may be in conflict with your own.

    They are worth hearing listening to and trying to understand other peoples point of view is how we hopefully arrive at the best solutions to the problems we face as human beings.

    Sticking you fingers in your ears and going nya nya nya can’t hear you like a three year old goes nowhere.

    Alas in our age shouting down and drowning out the opposition is pretty much par for political discouse

  4. Armchair Critic says:

    New Zealanders are fundamentally different, in terms of the GCSB legislation, because we are the people who give the government the authority to govern. This authority does not stem from any other group of people anywhere else in the world.

  5. TraceyS says:

    New Zealand could maintain a law that says no spying by our government on our citizens, but other countries have laws that say their Governments can spy on us. Which makes you feel more uncomfortable AC?

    On its own, the fact that others can do it is no single justification for us to change our laws, but it should make people aware that laws aren’t ever going to assure us the 100% privacy we cry for. How could they? NZ can’t tell other countries to pass laws saying no spying on us Kiwis because we’re all good guys down here. And can you imagine what that would do for NZ if we became the “no spy zone”? Wouldn’t that be advertising for criminals to come set up here?

    What I think the GCSB debate has raised is awareness that there is no such thing as internet privacy in particular. The end to their innocence (or ignorance) has annoyed those who are just waking up to the reality of modern-day communications. That is a great many of us. And some are blaming the Government, while others are saying they don’t care.

    “The internet is neither neutral nor private, in case you were in any doubt…”

    “…when you send an email it leaves Google’s encrypted garden and hits the open web in clear text for anyone to read.”
    (http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21929294.500-meshnet-activists-rebuilding-the-internet-from-scratch.html#.UhFPZtJHJsk)

    I think you will find the article interesting AC. The only way to deliver what people like Viv advocate is for NZ to have its own private internet as described in the article. But that is not something I would vote for owing to the possibility for misuse by people much scarier than politicians.

    There is no such thing as all good or all bad solutions to anything. The internet and mobile communications are hugely enabling and give freedoms we would once never have considered possible. Sitting alongside that is a risk of compromise to privacy and anonymity. Unfortunately for those in your camp, it is one that most people are prepared to take. For proof of this being false, just watch the massive reduction in email, internet, and mobile use when the GCSB Bill passes.

  6. Viv K says:

    The internet is not secure, there is cybercrime and hacking, yes, we know that. Yet again it appears you, Tracey, need reminding of the fact that this is not a justification for allowing a government to spy on it’s law abiding citizens. The GCSB bill will permit the GCSB to look at the content of NZ citizen’s communications when conducting their cyber security functions, even though John Key said the opposite on TV last week. You said ‘the only way to deliver what people like Viv advocate for’ – excuse me, stop making stuff up would you. I have not been advocating for cleaning up the internet or some naive vision of 100% protection of all internet use. I object to this government rushing through legislation with a wafer thin majority, to legalise internet surveillance of law abiding citizens. The fact that, to pass, it needs the votes of ‘don’t look at my emails’ Dunne and teapot tape Banks, would be funny if it wasn’t so serious. Ele wants to know if NZers are special. Not really Ele, all over the world ordinary people object to increasing government surveillance.

  7. Armchair Critic says:

    New Zealand could maintain a law that says no spying by our government on our citizens, but other countries have laws that say their Governments can spy on us. Which makes you feel more uncomfortable AC?

    It’s a false dichotomy Tracey S, and you pretty much acknowledge it yourself in your next paragraph. The answer to your question is both, or neither.

    On its own, the fact that others can do it is no single justification for us to change our laws, but it should make people aware that laws aren’t ever going to assure us the 100% privacy we cry for. How could they? NZ can’t tell other countries to pass laws saying no spying on us Kiwis because we’re all good guys down here. And can you imagine what that would do for NZ if we became the “no spy zone”? Wouldn’t that be advertising for criminals to come set up here?

    Who is this “we” who is “crying for 100% privacy”? You can be sure I’m not. There are and will always be good reasons for the state to investigate some of its citizens, including gathering data without their knowledge or permission.
    John Key and the National government have failed, thus far, to:
    Obtain widespread parliamentary support for the changes (though they said they would)
    Provide plausible evidence that the changes they propose are necessary
    Explain why the changes need to be rushed through
    Demonstrate that the increases in the GCSB’s powers will be adequately moderated, especially in light of the lax oversight provided by the PM to date
    The hypothetical situation of a “no-spy zone” (any evidence anyone has seriously suggested it? Labour are suggesting an enquiry, the Greens and Winston are saying the legislation will be repealed) might be attractive to criminals. What we could do is enact some laws to prevent them from staying too long, or even from arrving. We could call them Immigration Laws, or something like that.

    What I think the GCSB debate has raised is awareness that there is no such thing as internet privacy in particular. The end to their innocence (or ignorance) has annoyed those who are just waking up to the reality of modern-day communications. That is a great many of us. And some are blaming the Government, while others are saying they don’t care.

    “The internet is neither neutral nor private, in case you were in any doubt…”
    “…when you send an email it leaves Google’s encrypted garden and hits the open web in clear text for anyone to read.”

    Twaddle. What it has raised is that the government neither respects nor trusts the people who elected it to govern. The descendents of the people who fought for the right to vote, to think freely, to speak freely, to go where they want when they want, to associate with whoever they want are having those rights rolled back before their eyes. Your “others can and do do it too” argument is vacuous. A government that does not respect its citizens’ rights is a corrupt government.

    I think you will find the article interesting AC. The only way to deliver what people like Viv advocate is for NZ to have its own private internet as described in the article. But that is not something I would vote for owing to the possibility for misuse by people much scarier than politicians.

    From what I’ve read of Viv K’s comments, the main thing she’s after is for the government to not routinely collect data on everyone’s internet usage. Your comment above looks like a serious misinterpretation of Viv K’s words. And no, it’s not the only way. What they could do, and I reckon this would be much better, is only watch people who are a real threat to our democracy and do it with proper oversight, and let the rest of us get on with talking about whatever it is that goes on on FB, watching (pick your favourite) sport, buying junk on trademe and, for the terminally dull, complaining about the politicians on the other team.

    There is no such thing as all good or all bad solutions to anything. The internet and mobile communications are hugely enabling and give freedoms we would once never have considered possible. Sitting alongside that is a risk of compromise to privacy and anonymity. Unfortunately for those in your camp, it is one that most people are prepared to take. For proof of this being false, just watch the massive reduction in email, internet, and mobile use when the GCSB Bill passes.

    C’mon Tracey, that will prove nothing of the sort. The government aren’t giving anyone the choice here, it’s not even “like it, or lump it”. The “like it” bit is omitted. Unfortunately for those in your camp the legislation will be rolled back and updated so that people can go about their business without Big Brother peering through the Key hole at them. Meanwhile the dogged determination of National is chipping away at the meagre support that gave them a majority, The MPs at the bottom of the list are worrying about their future after the next election and the Labour/Green government that your team so fears looms closer by the day.

  8. TraceyS says:

    Well I think you are advocating for that in practice Viv. I mean, you don’t mind admitting that your emails are not secure from all and sundry, but you want an assurance that the government won’t have access as long as you are law abiding. While that may be a fair thing to want, I do wonder if it is realistic and practical for the law to say so.

    How could surveillance which aims to detect criminal activity guarantee that it will avoid sometimes picking up communications from or to law abiding parties? Doesn’t the law have to allow this to be legal in case it does inadvertently happen? You want that guarantee, but can that guarantee actually be given?

    I think there is a difference between ‘don’t look at my emails’ and ‘don’t publish my emails’. I have no issue if my emails happened to get caught in a net that was looking for criminal activity. I would have a problem if the content of such was made public. The former is not a breech of privacy in my view but the latter clearly is (if I am law abiding).

  9. TraceyS says:

    “There are and will always be good reasons for the state to investigate some of its citizens, including gathering data without their knowledge or permission.”

    Sometimes this might involve casting the net wide and this may envelop communications from/to parties who are innocent. If the law says an outright no to that, then the former approach won’t be possible to carry out legally.

    AC, you are a bit naive if you think that future governments will “roll back” these changes. LOL. They might tweak them up a bit to please.

  10. Viv K says:

    For you to claim “Well I think you are advocating for that in practice Viv” is just you setting up a strawman for you to then take apart.
    Because it seems I have to spell things out very clearly to you, I will say here that what I am advocating for is for the Law Society and Internet NZ amendments to the GCSB bill to be made. You can find them online.
    Perhaps you could try to debate an issue without making up what you think other people think, you don’t do it all the time, but when you do it derails any useful discussion.

  11. TraceyS says:

    I will have a look. Actually I was about to ask what exactly were the specific changes you wanted to see. There has been a lot of unconstructive and unhelpful criticism around these changes. I don’t believe that you have “spell[ed] things out clearly” until now, so thank you for that.

    And regarding the rest of what you said, we don’t all have to look at an issue from the same angle. Different people bring in their own sets of ideas, concerns, and values to a debate.

  12. Armchair Critic says:

    Call it naive if you wish, Tracey S. I heard what Messrs Shearer, Norman and Peters said last night. I saw the Auckland Town Hall packed full, with people being turned away because they’d turned up too late. I noted that the opposition to the Bill is from a broad spectrum of society. I recalled what happens to all governments that forget that their role is to serve the people’s interests.
    And I smiled in the knowledge that I had kept myself in touch and acted, while people like you pretend there is no problem and did nothing. There is a problem. It will hurt this government, and the more it is ignored the more the government will suffer at the next election.

  13. TraceyS says:

    And did Messrs Shearer, Norman and Peters all agree that they would “roll back” the changes? Is this what they told the audience?

  14. TraceyS says:

    The loud applause when Norman was introduced as “the next Minister of Finance” suggests that the audience was anything but representative of mainstream NZ.

  15. Viv K says:

    Have you truly not even looked at the Law Society submission before now? Or the Internet NZ one? I have made reference to them (especially the Law Society one) in comments since late June.

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