An Open Letter to John Key in Opposition to the GCSB Amendment Bill
This letter is partly in response to the findings of the Kitteridge report about the GCSB and their failures to follow the law, but is also mindful of the recent PRISM revelations about the actions of the NSA in the USA
Dear Mr Key
This letter is partly in response to the findings of the Kitteridge report about the GCSB and their failures to
follow the law, but is also mindful of the recent PRISM revelations about the actions of the NSA in the
USA, as well as the mass spying revealed to have been carried out by the GCHQ in the United Kingdom.
As disturbing as these revelations have been, we cannot help but be shocked that this surveillance was
carried out in secret, without the knowledge of the citizens of each country.
We assert that, as citizens of a democratic society, we have the right to know the methods that
government agencies use to watch us. Without this knowledge we cannot pursue our rights to put
appropriate limits on their use.
We are writing to you, Mr Key, as you are the Minister responsible for both the SIS and the GCSB, with
the intention of sharing our concerns, as a community of people you represent and ask you to consider
our justified requests for information carefully and positively.
Justifiable State surveillance has always been a mechanism by which governments monitor the attitudes
and movements of their people. These activities are not new, but today, have the potential to impact on
the lives of Average Joe in ways never before seen in history.
An expansion of acceptable surveillance to become “spying” powers by government agencies is not a
welcome or wise move on your government’s part. We denounce this move as nothing more than
pandering to America, and our partners in the 5 Eyes program.
We find it repugnant that everyday citizens are being monitored, without need or just cause by our largest
ally, and believe it to be wholly un-necessary to impose these same behaviours on New Zealanders.
There is a clear and present need for an amendment to the Citizens’ Initiated Referenda Act 1993, one
that would allow for true and effective democratic government in New Zealand, thus making referenda
binding to government, in that way empowering citizens to place appropriate limits on unbridled
This need is highlighted by the obvious erroneous systems of government in this country, which have
negatively affected you, your party, and the people of New Zealand. To be fair, these errors of judgement,
policy, and bureaucracy are not exclusive to National led governments, but they should serve to highlight
the need for community involvement in policymaking.
There are successful models of Binding Referenda implemented in multiple places around the globe,
Switzerland, California in the U.S, Australia, and now Iceland, Ecuador, Chile, all have a system of
binding referenda which has served them well, and therefore increased the level of democratic
involvement of the citizenry.
We believe that New Zealand is in a prime position to implement and perhaps improve on these
necessary systems of direct citizen involvement in true democratic government.
If the examples of recent public referenda are anything to go by, it should be obvious to any onlooker that
the Government is clearly out of touch with the average New Zealander, where so many people give their
opinions clearly, and Government equally clearly ignored those citizens’ choices.
Lastly, we would like you to address the following questions in a positive and responsible manner.
• Are any agencies building up databases of metadata (information
about information - e.g. call data) about New Zealanders who are
not targets of an active investigation?
• Does any agency have access to the central nodes of New Zealand's phone or data
telecommunications networks to collect communications or metadata?
• Is any agency tapping into the Southern Cross cable to collect communications or metadata?
• Is any agency intercepting satellite transmissions to collect communications or metadata?
• Does any surveillance agency have access to the information stored in large corporate databases
(e.g. banks, Trademe, power companies) except through the use of an approved warrant
targeted at an individual or specific group?
• Does any surveillance agency have access to the information stored in large government
databases such as those held by Customs, WINZ, Corrections or any other government entity
except through the use of an approved warrant targeted at an individual or specific group?
• Does any agency accept mass data, either metadata or communications, from overseas agencies
about New Zealanders who not the targets of an active investigation?
• Does any agency accept intelligence from overseas agencies or allies that have been derived
from their spying on New Zealanders communications?
• What is the government doing to protect NZ communications from spying by the UK and USA?
• Are there any other forms of surveillance or spying that would not have been included in the
answers to the earlier questions?
• Does any agency have any plans (especially in light of the TICS and GCSB Bills) to implement
any systems which would change the substance of your answers?
We thank you for your worthwhile attention,
Citizens of New Zealand.