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Will Drunken MPs Invade Your Privacy? 31 July 2001 Edition
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Come on Kiwis -- it's about time you started making a bit of a noise and demanding some answers out of government over the proposed Crimes Amendment Act.

Things have now gotten beyond a joke and, if we don't start questioning this thing, we can kiss our privacy and other rights goodbye when the bill is passed.

Today's column may sound like the unbalanced ravings of a redneck fanatic and I know I've already mentioned the Crimes Amendment Act recently but I urge you to consider carefully what is being said here.

First, be sure and read this story from IDG today in which it is revealed that the GCSB won't need the court's permission to start snooping on your private communications or to hack your PC. If they can trick a gullible minister into okaying it -- then you're fair game for their covert activities.

Now I don't mean to sound disrespectful to our government Ministers -- but one only has to look at how many of them have been demoted, prosecuted, or sanctioned because they've made silly decisions or even broken the law to realise that they aren't saints. And, if you still think they might be sensible enough to entrust with such a draconian power -- just spend an afternoon watching or listening to a session of parliament and your illusions will be well and truly shattered by the child-like attitudes and bad behaviour that prevails.

Does it sound right that if you dispute a parking ticket you'll have your fate decided by a sober, well educated, highly vetted, trusted member of the judiciary -- yet the SIS will be able to violate your privacy at the whim of a minister who might have just finished that late-night bottle of wine (or two).

Does it sound right that the police must obtain a judge's permission to search your house -- but the SIS/GCSB doesn't?

Of course we don't have to worry if the calibre of our politicians isn't quite of the same standard as the judiciary do we? After all, the SIS and GCSB would never dream of acting inappropriately would they?

Oh, what's that? Recent history suggests otherwise -- oh dear.

Let's face it, a belief that the ends justify the means is not totally unknown within security and law-enforcement agencies. Check out just how far the FBI has been caught out bending the law in the USA to spy on its citizens -- what on earth makes NZers believe that our agencies are going to behave any differently?

This strategy of bugging your PC also means that even your PGP encyrpted email may not be safe from the eyes of the spooks.

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  • GCSB/SIS Interception... - David
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    And please remember, as the US example proves, we're not just talking about intercepting email at your ISP account -- we're talking about a government minister (who is unlikely to have had any formal legal training or vetting by the judiciary) authorising a bunch of state-thugs to possibly break into your house and bug your PC.

    Now, as a citizen, I want to see the case which the government is using to support these draconian powers.

    We're told it's designed to help fight crime.

    Okay -- let's see some concrete evidence and some figures.

    Exactly how much crime will this kind of licensed hacking and snooping prevent or solve?

    What is the dollar value? How many assaults, rapes, robberies, frauds, etc are directly related to Internet activities and will thus be prevented?

    Could it be that the government doesn't actually know the answer to these questions?

    Could it be that they're just guessing it's a level significant enough to justify the draconian powers the CAB will give them and their agencies?

    Are we, as citizens, voters and taxpayers, prepared to accept having our rights violated on a hunch?

    Would you give someone $10,000 on the basis that you think they might give you a car in return? Hell no!

    We are being told we need this legislation -- but as sensible people we should be demanding the proof.

    If the government doesn't have the facts to back its argument then why should we allow them the right to ride rough-shod over our basic human rights in a manner that seems to be dangerously lacking in controls -- after all, just who is watching the minister who grants permission for such activities -- and have they been drinking?

    Come on folks -- this is a very important issue that has the potential to affect every single one of us -- not because we're all criminals -- but because we have a right to expect that our communications remain private and that our houses and PCs remain unvoilated. Instead we appear to be poised to pass legislation that will give politicians the power to hack into the sanctity of our private lives.

    And if you think that just because you've done nothing wrong that you have nothing to fear -- just have a chat with Arthur Alan Thomas or David Dougherty (and God knows how many others) about whether such beliefs will protect you when you become the victim of a system without the correct checks and balances.


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