Lies & more spies


Private and state surveillance of political activists, Maori and migrant communities is the order of the day. Such people are a threat to the money-making ability of big business, and a threat to the power of the state.

Plans to expand the powers of the Government Communications and Security Bureau (GCSB) are painted as necessary for 'national security'. Yesterday, the Prime Minister and Minister of the GCSB defended the new powers, saying that dark forces had attempted to acquire Weapons of Mass destruction and systems to deliver WMDs. Such a claim beggars belief for a whole range of reasons.

  1. the GCSB already has legal power to conduct surveillance of 'foreign' targets, precisely those agents or organisations attempting to secure WMDs if that were indeed the case. Since NZ does not possess any WMDs and is a signatory to the various UN conventions against chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, John Key is almost certainly playing very loose with the facts. If WMDs are in the hands of private corporations in NZ, then they should be subject to a most urgent criminal investigation since surely that is illegal both under NZ and international law.

  2. weapons delivery technology in the form of crystal oscillators used in GPS has already been legally sold by NZ company Rakon to a US weapons manufacturer who uses them to guide weapons used by the Israeli state in the occupied Palestinian territories - which suggests that the NZ government is only too happy for corporates to sell advanced technological componentry to at least one terrorist state

  3. the majority of the surveillance conducted by the GCSB was done for the SIS, not the Police. The police clearly already have the technology to do this surveillance if they need to - and they have a warrant process to get legal authority to do so. They asked the GCSB to help in the Kim Dotcom case because under NZ law, they couldn't get a warrant because Dotcom hadn't done anything illegal or wrong in NZ. The SIS surveillance is domestic surveillance, and it is the same stuff they have been doing for years - targeting political opposition to the NZ state, from Maori in particular, and monitoring migrant communities already in very vulnerable situations.

In case we have forgotten the case of Ahmed Zaoui, it is worth remembering that this man who is now selling kebabs on K Road in Auckland spent more than two years in solitary confinement because he was such a threat to national security, the SIS told us.

The expansion of GCSB powers is incredibly dangerous given the enormous capability they have to spy on every single person in New Zealand.

The robust 'oversight' plans announced are frankly a joke and will do nothing to stem the tide of growing surveillance. The course of surveillance powers goes: 1. Parliament says, 'here's the limits on your powers'; 2. it is discovered that the agency has broken the law; 3. they claim 'oh, we didn't know that was illegal'; 4. powers expanded to legalise illegal activity. It has already happened with the police and SIS, now it's the GCSB's turn.

The ramping up of surveillance by the GCSB is mirrored over at Solid Energy, that today's media revealed had spent $200,000 on private investigators because, they said, people within New Zealand were trying to hamper their activities. The people that they are talking about are Coal Action Network - a grassroots community group that has been organising to stop Solid Energy's coal briquetting plant, and working towards a coal-free country.

In 2008, it was revealed that Solid Energy had hired private investigators Thompson and Clark to spy on the Save Happy Valley campaign, a grassroots anti-mining group. They had also placed surveillance cameras on Conservation land. The Labour government said that this behaviour was unacceptable and Solid Energy should not continue to spy on people engaged in legitimate political dissent and opposition.

Clearly, Solid Energy either briefly stopped its activities and waited for a more favourable government to resume its sponsorship of private investigators who were attempting to undermine democratic opposition, or they never stopped spying. In either case, it is clear that corporations like Solid Energy will go to whatever lengths are necessary to shut down opposition and protest, and their use of surveillance will increase in coming years as opposition to environmental devastation grows.

There has never been a more urgent time for organised mass opposition to surveillance.


Commenting has now closed on this article.

And the next round of law changes to enable more state surveillance is in the pipeline. The Herald reports today, that the government plans to amend the Telecommunications Interception Capability Act to enable the state to spy on encrypted data:

The Indymedia Network

Latin America
United States
East Asia
South Asia
West Asia