Most surveys I have seen analyzing a country’s vulnerability to terrorism place New Zealand at the ‘very low risk’ end of the spectrum. I wonder what percentage of the world's population even knows where it is. Nevertheless, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, John Key, seems convinced that the country is in such danger from (unspecified) threats that his government has passed, by one vote, new legislation permitting electronic spying.
|NZ's PM John Key -|
democracy for the next generation
New Zealand passed legislation Wednesday allowing its main intelligence agency to spy on residents and citizens, despite opposition from rights groups, international technology giants and the legal fraternity.
The bill to expand the power of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) passed by 61 votes to 59 after impassioned debate, with Prime Minister John Key acknowledging the move had left some people "agitated and alarmed".
"This is not, and never will be, about wholesale (?) spying on New Zealanders," Key told parliament.
"There are threats our government needs to protect New Zealanders from, those threats are real and ever-present and we underestimate them at our peril."
The push to change the law came after it emerged last year that the GCSB illegally spied on Internet tycoon Kim Dotcom before armed police raided his Auckland mansion as part of a US-led probe into online piracy.
At the time Key publicly apologised to Dotcom, who is a New Zealand resident and should have been off-limits to the GCSB under legislation preventing it from snooping on locals.
However, an official report found that Dotcom's case was only one of dozens in which the GCSB had overstepped its bounds.
Key then moved to change the law to let the GCSB spy on New Zealanders, arguing it needed to cooperate more closely with agencies such as the police and military in an increasingly complex cyber-security environment. Read more: