Still deeply embarrassed that its spy agency, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), was found to have acted illegally by capturing communications from Kim Dotcom, the New Zealand government is planning on changing its laws so the Bureau can in future spy on New Zealand citizens and residents.
NZ prime minister John Key has released draft legislation that would allow the GCSB to provide support to “the New Zealand Police, the New Zealand Defence Force and the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS).
The update to the law was mooted in April 2013.
“The GCSB will only be able to provide that support when those agencies are acting within their own lawful duties,” the announcement continues.
The PM also said the legislation would strengthen oversight of the agency, which was accused of going on a fishing expedition prior to last year's arrest of Kim Dotcom and the shutdown of Megaupload, in cooperation with the FBI.
The GCSB made a basic error when it decided to tap Dotcom's communications during the investigations: it didn't check his immigration status, which would have identified him as a permanent resident and immune from GCSB spying (police would have needed a warrant to record his calls). That led to the NZ High Court giving him permission to sue the spooks.
The government is spinning the change to the law as helping protect New Zealanders against cyber-attack. The draft of the bill is here. ®