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Do As We Say, Not As We Do! 23 July 2001 Edition
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Let's talk about he thorny issue of the Crimes Amendment Bill (No 6) and the way that public and industry concerns over the sweeping powers this gives to law-enforcement agencies.

Late last week, a parliamentary committee dismissed a raft of genuine concerns raised by the public and moved another step closer to passing this controversial bill.

Whenever a government passes legislation that gives them, or the agencies they administer, rights which the public are denied then we have a very dangerous situation.

Of course we're all told that empowering the police or whoever to snoop on what should be private communications, and to hack into our computers is okay because they'll only use such powers for the public good by catching the bad-guys who threaten us.

Unfortunately, the only time you can ever believe this is when the government can provide an absolute guarantee that there is no graft or corruption within is ranks, or the ranks of those agencies who are granted such powers under this new bill. Of course the government can't provide those guarantees -- so they are in effect telling us that "yes, these powers and privileges will be abused by a tiny few, but don't worry about it."

I'm sorry -- but in my book that's just not good enough!

We don't have to cast our minds back very far to recall instances where corrupt IRD workers were found to be selling personal information to debt collectors do we? And how many times in recent years have we seen members of the police force hauled up before the courts, having abused the privileged position of trust given them by that position? This kind of thing doesn't appear to be limited to lowly members of the rank-and-file --we've seen MPs and high-ranking members of the police appearing on drunk-driving charges when they are supposed to have been responsible for the passing and enforcement of laws which prohibit such behaviour.

Readers Say
(updated hourly)
  • Nothing to hide - nothing to Fear?... - Martin
  • Very short memories... - David
  • Have Your Say

    Sure, the level of such disgrace is small and the vast majority of those charged with such responsibilities and granted such privilege conduct themselves in a professional and ethical manner -- but that's likely to be small consolation if it's you, your data and your computer who become the victims of corruption and explotation of the powers granted under this proposed new bill is it?

    So one must ask -- do we really need this new anti-hacking legislation?

    Well I find it very strange that just last week we saw a Kiwi hacker convicted on several charges relating to his activities. If our laws are really so ineffective as to require such major changes that the police and other agencies will need special dispensation to avoid them -- why wasn't he acquitted?

    Quite frankly -- when those who wield the power start dictating that we "do as they say, not as they do," and when geniune worries and concerns are brushed aside as they were last week, then we really ought to ask whether they are being totally honest with us?

    Perhaps the most important question we can ask is: "Exactly what guarantees do we have that the powers granted to law-enforcement agencies under this legislation will not be abused?"

    Public acceptance of the Crimes Amendment Bill (No 6) must be completely contingent on a satisfactory response to this question -- and proof that the assurances given are valid.

    Or perhaps I'm just playing devil's advocate? :-)

    However, this is a very important issue, tell me (and Aardvark's readers) exactly what you think.

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