Spy review panel needs to look at NSA roll back

The intelligence and security review panel needs to look overseas and realise that unbridled power for spy agencies to undertake mass spying is no longer acceptable, and ensure that New Zealanders do not have less privacy protections than American citizens, said the Green Party today

The intelligence and security review panel needs to look overseas and realise that unbridled power for spy agencies to undertake mass spying is no longer acceptable, and ensure that New Zealanders do not have less privacy protections than American citizens, said the Green Party today.

Provisions that allowed the American National Security Agency (NSA) to undertake mass spying were shut down due to a sunset clause in the Patriot Act. The USA Freedom Act, which is expected to replace the Patriot Act, will permanently prevent mass surveillance and introduce more rules on transparency.

These changes come two years after Edward Snowden blew the whistle on extensive mass spying by the NSA. Snowden documents also blew the whistle on spying by the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).

“The move to curb the NSA’s powers is another step taken by overseas countries to limit their spy agencies”, said Green Party intelligence and security spokesperson Dr Kennedy Graham.

“Unfortunately, curbing the powers of our spies is something our Government has been unwilling to do.

“The American Government has used the Snowden documents to overhaul their surveillance laws, while John Key just continues to deny their truth; despite admitting he has no evidence to show it is made up.

“New Zealanders shouldn’t be subjected to greater violations of privacy than other citizens, just because our Government is not willing to do the right thing.

“The fact that the New Zealand review panel has no human rights or privacy experts who are outside the ‘beltway’, is quite concerning.  It shows the direction the Government wants to take with this review.

“If this were a genuine attempt at fixing our spy agencies, there should have been cross-party consultation on who should have been on that review panel.

“The Green Party wants to see a more robust review panel, one that includes independent experts in human rights,” said Dr Graham.

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