Thursday, 18 April 2013

The Prime Minister, the GCSB & Devices of Mass Distraction

So the Prime Minister's answer to the GCSB (Government Communications Security Bureau) spying illegally on New Zealanders and residents is to rush through legislation allowing the GCSB to do just that. And the reason we need this is that overseas baddies want to use Kiwi technology for weapons of mass destruction, but we can't see the evidence, because it is secret.  Will the Prime Minister please advise how many of the 88 New Zealanders illegally spied upon were providing Kiwi technology to people trying to build weapons of mass destruction? I think Mr Key is very adept at employing his own devices of mass distraction.

  Sweeping GCSB changes announced 15/4/13

Prime Minister John Key has announced sweeping changes to the powers of the Government Communications Security Bureau.
Key said failure to do so would leave New Zealand's national security open to threat.
"As prime minister I am simply not willing to do that. To do nothing would be an easy course of action politically, but it would be an irresponsible one."
The changes would allow the GCSB to provide information assurance and cyber security advice and help to both public and private sector organisations, and allow it to assist other entities such as the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, New Zealand Defence Force and Police while retaining its foreign intelligence gathering powers "broadly as is".
The change follows a top level report revealing widespread problems within the bureau and more than 80 cases where it may have spied on New Zealanders illegally.
The potential illegality was uncovered in the wake of revelations the GCSB spied on German internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom illegally, apparently under the mistaken belief he was not a New Zealand citizen or resident.
A 2003 law change explicitly barred the GCSB from spying on Kiwis.
Key said the cases of potential illegality involved the GCSB assisting police and the Security Intelligence Service acting under warrants. It believed the law allowed it to do so.
But the legality of that has now been called into question.
The terrorism threat in New Zealand is low but people have tried to use our technology to build weapons of mass destruction, Key said.

- © Fairfax NZ News

Spy agency could have illegally spied on dozens of Kiwis

Published: 6:27PM Tuesday April 09, 2013 Source: ONE News

A critical report into the Government's spy agency has been released this afternoon.
The top secret review, by senior public servant Rebecca Kitteridge, into the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) , which was leaked to media yesterday, has been officially made public this afternoon.
Kitteridge's 71-page report, which was ordered after the illegal raid on Kim Dotcom's Coatesville mansion, reveals a series of failings within the bureau's management and culture.
Story continues below...
It shows that at least 88 people may have been illegally spied on between April 2003 and September last year on behalf of domestic spy agency, the Security Intelligence Service (SIS).

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Court Staff Replaced By A Computer System That Doesn't Exist

One of the supposed reasons for the closure of many community courthouse was the advent of the eBench computer system coming on line in July this year, has been shown to be the lie it is, with Radio New Zealand's announcement (15 April) that the hoped for date of cross over to the new system will be delayed until at least July 2014 because writing the computer programmes is "more complex than anticipated." So it is now apparent that hundreds of trained and experienced court staff have been sacked nationwide and communities have lost their courthouses because of a Minister's desire to have them replaced by a computer system yet to be built and computer programmes that are not even written. Teachers have seen the carnage created by ditching in haste a system that actually works for a "cheaper more efficient system" with Novopay, now the same level of incompetence and haste have been visited on urban and rural centres who have had courthouses close and on staff now sacked after decades of loyal service by a Minister who does not care. 

Updated at 8:43 am today
Plans to make law courts paperless have been delayed by up to a year.
Courts Minister Chester Borrows had hoped to have the change take effect in July, but getting the technology in place has proved a bigger job than first thought.
The eBench computer system will allow judges to manage criminal cases electronically and process charges up to 70% faster.
Mr Borrows said police will begin filing their paperwork electronically to courts from July, as planned, but it could be July next year before the system is fully functioning.
He says that was because building computer programmes to handle the changeover is more complex than anticipated.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Kids With Fake IDs Commit Fraud But Officers With False Badge Numbers OK?

On 10 March 2013 I was disturbed to see on a Fairfax site a story that police officers when arresting people during a protest wore false badge numbers:

"Police officers who deliberately faked their uniform badge numbers to avoid being identified as they weighed into a violent public protest will keep their jobs and won't be investigated by the force's watchdog.
Two of the officers were found guilty of breaching their own code of conduct and a third was said to have a "performance issue" after they were caught using matching identification badges at an Occupy Auckland eviction in January 2012.
Despite the pre-meditation involved, the Independent Police Conduct Authority decided the three officers' behaviour was not serious enough to warrant its attention, saying investigators were too busy dealing with cases involving death and bodily harm."
Police officers as a matter of law are required to wear their identifying numbers,. These numbers enable people who wish to complain about individual officers breaching the law, using excessive force etc. In other words these numbers serve as a tool to protect citizens and to enable investigating bodies to undertake meaningful investigations into the actions of individual officers."
If an officer beats a citizen while wearing a false id they could never be held accountable, as they can't be identified. In other words a meaningful check on the exercise of an officer's coercive power would be removed. The ability for the State to monitor the actions of those who enforce its law would be blocked or frustrated.
This is actually very serious. The Crimes Act 1961 gives but one example of an offence that these officers could have committed by wearing false badges:
116Conspiring to defeat justice
  • Every one is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years who conspires to obstruct, prevent, pervert, or defeat the course of justice in New Zealand or the course of justice in an overseas jurisdiction.

I thought of this when reading an article from the Hutt News today:

False IDs have cost for young

Hutt cops confiscating four fakes per week

A Lower Hutt policeman frustrated at increasing numbers of young people using false identification says many don't realise they could end up with a criminal record.
Hutt Valley Sergeant Shane Benge says as many as four false ID cards are handed to him a week from Hutt Valley bars. He says that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Bar staff often don't hold on to false IDs, while many Hutt Valley teens head to Wellington for a night on the town.
However the numbers of people presenting false ID at Hutt Valley bars seems to be growing this summer, he says.
Mr Benge says he is not sure whether this is because of better door checks at bars or more young people trying it on.
In most cases, those using false ID at bars are 17 year olds whose friends are legally able to drink, and they don't want to miss out.
"It's actually quite a serious fraud offence - it's using a document dishonestly.

This whole story reeks of a double standard. So in other words, it is fraud for a young person to use a false id to get into a pub, but when police officers arguably commit fraud and or breach the Crimes Act by using false IDs, it is something that the IPCA thinks is not serious, and will result in no prosecutions. Integral to any notion of the Rule of Law is surely the notion of equality of all before the law - "Be you never so high, the law is above you," should be as true today as when Dr Thomas Fuller wrote it in 1733.

International watchdog Transparency International recently released a study showing that New Zealand views itself as one of the least corrupt countries in the world. Perhaps that is so if you never have any mechanisms to ensure transparency, or the watchdogs that are meant to watch out for corruption fail to exercise their role with sufficient rigour.