Submissions due 7th October 2016
The Bill is a significant overhaul of the existing legislation which governs our intelligence and security agencies
- We believe that reform of the intelligence organisations is overdue and very necessary, but this Bill doesn’t properly address our concerns
- The new Act doesn’t have enough protections for Kiwis privacy and will allow the GCSB to spy on New Zealanders, which is a significant step
- There still isn’t enough independent oversight of these agencies to ensure that there is an appropriate balance between national security, privacy and the right to political dissent.
What the Bill does
The Bill will replaced the four separate Acts currently governing security and intelligence. In their place there will be a single piece of legislation, the Security and Intelligence Act, which will set out how all of the organisations which work on intelligence and security can behave.
One of the biggest changes is that there will no longer be a meaningful distinction between which agencies can legally monitor New Zealanders; both the Government Security Communications Bureau (GCSB) and the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) can spy on Kiwis.
The new Bill will introduce a warrant system, including a ‘triple lock’ protection for any warrant involving a New Zealander, which means approval by the Attorney-General and a Commissioner of Intelligence Warrants (a former High Court Judge). The Inspector General of the Intelligence Services (IGIS) also has the right to review these warrants.
Warrants will allow the agencies to do things that would otherwise be illegal when monitoring New Zealanders, like set up bugs in someone’s house, tap their phone, or seize their belongings.
The Green Party welcomes some of the changes that the new law sets out. We think it’s important that the IGIS has more oversight of the agencies day to day operations than under the previous laws. It’s also positive that the Privacy Act now applies to the organisations, which means that the public have an avenue to make complaints.
However we remain concerned about the sweeping powers that the intelligence agencies will have, and the scope of Government officials to make broad-brush policy changes without detail oversight (such as the Ministerial Policy statements).
The Foreign Affairs and Defence Select Committee is now receiving submissions on the Security and Intelligence Bill. In your submission might want to raise some of the following points:
- The definition of national security as it relates to the act needs to be a matter of public debate, and should be drawn very narrowly. Kiwis should feel confident that their right to protest will be protected
- The Select Committee should pay particular attention to the experiences of people who have been unfairly or disproportionately targeted by security agencies in the past.
- Many members of the public are concerned with the potential for NZ spy agencies to share data with foreign organisations, and are looking for strict guidelines about what kind of information will be shared and under what circumstances.
- Increased co-operation between the GCSB and the NZSIS must not lead to a slow creep towards surveillance that has traditionally been reserved for international intelligence gathering, including the collection of metadata.
- Warrants are still available for ‘classes of people’, which is very concerning as it may mean that innocent people are unfairly monitored because of their connection with friends, workmates or family.
- There is an increase in the number of members to the Intelligence Select Committee (ISC), but no other significant changes have been made to parliamentary oversight.
- We think that the ISC should be accountable and transparent just like other parliamentary select committees, which this bill does not do.
- The new legislation specifies a new particular offense for anyone who discloses classified information. It’s crucial that there are protections for whistle-blowers under any new laws, to make sure that wrong-doing is exposed.
Make it count – Have your voice heard
Good submissions are personalised. They draw on your personal experiences to illustrate points. Be concise and state your major points of opposition clearly at the start of your submission. It’s easier for MPs to read submissions that get straight to the point about the concerns being raised.
We recommend opting to speak to your submission – simply include a line like: “I wish to appear before the select committee to speak to my submission.” You can opt out later if it will not work for you – but speaking to the submission means it will carry more weight.
How to make a Submission
 the New Zealand Security and Intelligence Service Act (SIS)
- the Government Communications Security Bureau Act (GCSB)
- the Intelligence and Security Committee Act (ISC)
- the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Act (IGIS)