Russel Norman

A few thoughts on the police and the GCSB

by Russel Norman

A few thoughts on the release of the Executive Summary of the police investigation into illegal spying at the GCSB.

1. GCSB say trust us, but won’t cooperate with investigation:

A number of GCSB staff exercised their legal rights and refused to answer questions to assist police with their investigation into a very serious breach of the crimes act.

These are the people who operate with minimal oversight and are given enormous powers to access all our emails, mobile phone calls etc – the people John Key just gave even more intrusive powers to, and who say we just have to trust them to operate legally.

These people refused to assist police into a serious breach of the crimes act by the GCSB.

So the GCSB once again has shown it can’t be trusted; it is a rogue agency operating outside the law, populated by people who will not help police enforce the law.

2. The police don’t care that much:

The police response to this was to do nothing to force information disclosure. They did not get warrants to read these peoples emails, text messages.

Compare this to the police treatment of Bradley Ambrose the reporter who recorded the tea pot tape conversations between John Key and John Banks. Police got warrants to read the text messages between Ambrose and his lawyers, between Ambrose and the media. Police raided the media.

The tea pot tape recording was a much less serious potential breach of the crimes act, in fact it is not clear that the recording was intentional, and it is not clear that the conversation was even private.

So in a very serious breach of the crimes act by a government agency that refused to completely cooperate with the police investigation, the police response was hands off. No warrants, no forced information disclosures. A nice chat amongst the chaps.

3. NSA fingerprints:

The report suggests very strongly that the source for the information about Dotcom was the Prism system operated by the NSA and that the GCSB has access to the NSA database about NZ electronic communications.

The GCSB were only pinged for one interception that they carried out themselves. The rest of the information they had about Kim Dotcom was ruled by the police to not meet the evidential test for ‘interception’ because it couldn’t be established that it was collected ‘in transit’ (the legal definition of interception) as opposed to ‘at rest’, ie from a stored database.

This other information was provided to the GCSB, they didn’t collect it themselves which is why apparently they couldn’t tell if it was collected in transit or at rest. But by whom? Not the police. The SIS? No mention of them in this case. Most likely it’s come from Prism.

Published in Justice & Democracy by Russel Norman on Wed, November 27th, 2013   

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