Monday, August 19, 2013

Hundreds attend last ditch attempt to stop GCSB bill - TVNZ

More than 1000 people packed Auckland Town Hall tonight at an anti GCSB Bill protest meeting.

Labour Party leader David Shearer, Green Party co-leader Russel Norman and internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom were among those speaking out against the Government's controversial spying legislation.

Anti-GSCB Bill campaigners organised the meeting in the hope that they may win last minute support from politicians to stop the legislation going through.

The Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) Bill is expected to go through its final stages in Parliament this week.

It is due to continue its committee stage debate tomorrow and is set to have its third and final reading before the end of the week.

Once passed, the GCSB Bill and its related legislation will extend the agency's powers so it can provide support for the New Zealand Police, Defence Force and the Security Intelligence Service.

But meeting organisers and the Opposition contend that the Bill will allow for "mass surveillance".

Mr Shearer told the audience that if Labour gets into power, they will commission a full inquiry into all intelligence networks.

"And on the basis of that, replace the current law. We need to restore that trust that people have.

"This Government isn't listening - it is ramming this Bill through not because any urgent changes are not actually needed, but because it wants to get this issue off the political agenda," he said.

'They capture our calls'

Mr Dotcom claimed the Government is lying to the public about the reach the spy agency has.

"The reality is, they capture our calls, they turn the calls into text with advanced software that can recognise what you can say," he said.

"They then have an algorithm, with key words, which runs over the all the text to identify the things that they are looking for, and then that text is stored indefinitely and is searchable forever.

"We are being lied to, we are being fooled into thinking that this GCSB system and this new bill has been created to protect us, but what it actually does is empower the Government to an extent that was unknown before the Snowden leaks."

Orcon founder Selby Woodhouse, CTU president Helen Kelly and journalist Jon Stephenson have also spoken at the meeting.

Ms Kelly said that she thinks the Bill is an "unwarranted attack".

"This law represents an unwarranted attack by the state on its own citizens no more, or no less," she said.

"It disregards all of our rights to operate freely within the law from unreasonable search and to correspond with each other without interference."

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said that he was three concerns about the Bill.

"The issue is not whether we have a security agency or not, New Zealanders are after all realists, they know we live in an imperfect, often evil world.

"The real issues are& how much new power are we giving the GCSB, second, do we have effective oversight of that agency and third how do we avoid relying on one person," he said.

Law is 'well balanced'

Despite the opposition, Prime Minister John Key remains confident that the legislation is necessary.

"They can take great confidence that the legislation is both necessary, it is well balanced, it's a tidy up of the previous legislation Labour passed," he said today.

"I think there will always be a point where privacy intersects with national security but I think we've got that point about right."

The GSCB Bill passed its second reading by 61 votes to 59 on August 1, after ACT leader John Banks and independent MP Peter Dunne agreed to support the Government.

The Government won Mr Dunne's support after agreeing to make several major amendments to the bill.

The revised GSCB bill now includes a code of principles for the spy agency to follow as well as the introduction of an oversight panel.

Copyright © 2013, Television New Zealand Limited. Breaking and Daily News, Sport & Weather | TV ONE, TV2 | Ondemand


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