New Zealand to rewrite spying laws

Posted on April 16, 2013 10:59 am

The government of New Zealand has announced a plan to rewrite laws governing how spy agencies can intercept telecommunications, after an internal inquiry found one department had spied on 88 New Zealand residents. Proposed law changes announced this evening (early morning New Zealand time) by New Zealand communications and information minister Amy Adams means telecom operators will be obliged to work with the (GCSB)-¬†Government Communications Security Bureau. The state spy agency has until now been tasked with providing foreign intelligence to New Zealand officials. The spy agencies have long been barred from intercepting residents’ communications. The minister added that interception capability was vital for the government to protect the country from crime and safeguard national security.

New Zealand has experienced a disturbing escalation of cyber activities recently and the government earlier this year announced there have been covert attempts to acquire New Zealand science and technology for program relating to weapons of mass destruction or weapons delivery systems. Interception of telecommunications has long been used to investigate and prosecute serious offending such as homicides and serious drug crimes in New Zealand. It has also been used in emergencies such as armed offender situations or kidnappings, to combat threats to national security, and prosecute cybercrime, both domestically and internationally. The proposed law changes would not reduce checks and balances on how police, security and intelligence agencies access and use private communications information. It will not also alter existing legal privacy requirements imposed on telecoms.

Contador Harrison