I haven’t yet requested my file from the Security Intelligence Service just in case it diverts some hard working intelligence operative from detecting an outrage from Al-Qaeda, the Red Army Faction, Baader Meinhof Gang or the Action, Research and Education Network of Aotearoa (ARENA).
Of course the group most likely to be striking fear into the hearts of the New Zealand’s Security Intelligence Service (da SIS) may very well be the last group mentioned above – a collection of New Zealanders fighting against the holy grail of free trade.
Over the weekend it emerged in the media that ARENA stalwart Dr Jane Kelsey had wanted to have a gander at her SIS file.
Given Ms Kelsey’s name had cropped up in a couple of other like minded travellers files it seemed likely there would be a goodly bundle of documents lovingly kept since the mid 80s. However if there is a goodly bundle it looks likely historians of the distant future will be the only ones trawling through these tomes.
To get a file from the SIS one needs to request it under the Privacy Act – however as Ms Kelsey rather miffedly points out the Privacy Commissioner has decided to err on the side of an individuals privacy – unfortunately for Ms Kelsey that individual is Dr Warren Tucker the boss of the SIS.
Of course the real reason for not wanting to allow Ms Kelsey the full dossier may very well be that the our intelligence services are taking a rather broad and potentially embarrassing definition of this part of the NZ intelligence and Security Act.
The definition of security in the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Act provides a legislative framework for the SIS’s job. The Act defines security as:
The protection of New Zealand from activities within or relating to New Zealand that:
– impact adversely on New Zealand’s international or economic well-being.
Now since the 80s New Zealand Government’s of all political hues have been committed to free trade – perhaps there really are some in the lofty reaches of public service that do consider the activities of Ms Kelsey and company should still be spied upon – and that is perhaps why one branch of the public service has decided to protect another branch.