It used to be that if you wanted to talk to the government you had to send a letter.
Then you were able to send a fax.
Nowadays, if you want to say “listen up” you can send them your thoughts by email, tweet or instant message.
But as of last night’s first reading of the bill to legalise the GCSB’s inability to read the law by which the department of buggers is empowered, we can now look forward to a new way of letting the government listen up: by having them listening in directly. By having the buggers intercept our emails, tap our phones, and bug our houses.
In short, by having these flatfooted, bumble-headed buggers, who were set up to spy on non-New Zealanders, spy on us instead—and without any real legal limit.
Oh, there are limits proposed, but many fewer than the police require for a warrant to search your home. (And those few limits have just been made many fewer.) The limits on them are just two: first, the “responsible minister” will have to sign an authorisation (ever met a responsible minister?), which will of course remain secret; and then the robustly named “Commissioner of Security Warrants” will have to do likewise. *
Try talking to either of them if you want to complain or protest, or talk at all about “due process of law.”
In fact, try to even find out if you’re being spied on, and by whom.
There is a definite trend at work here. Put this new bill together with Simon Power’s cut-price rapid legislative guillotine removing age-hold legal provisions to protect the innocent (you know, unfashionable things like jury trials and presumption of innocence), expanded search and surveillance powers for police, expanded powers for IRD to raid whatever bank account they feel like, and provisions being prepared to share information garnered by any of them between all of them, then if any of these agencies were in any way competent there’d be serious cause for concern.
Mind you, all the provisions are there to use, aren’t they. No point having a whip if you can’t crack it. And while you might personally think John Key is such a nice man he’d never allow anything nasty to happen (well, not unless the FBI invite a few friends to join them in Coatesville one evening for a fly-over and a little house party), maybe you should be reminded that not everyone in politics matches your illusions about Mr Key. Invoking that famous bugger Richard Nixon and reminding you of his Enemies List is probably akin to violating Godwin’s Law, but remember that the Right Honourable Robert David Muldoon had his own much-treasured list of enemies, and bucked every legal restraint then existing to harm them.
So woe betide you if on some future date you fall foul of some grey one out to get you, or just eager to please a superior. Because their job is being made easier by the day.
* The rigour with which this is likely to be carried out may be observed in the fact that the Bill of Rights Act requires the Attorney General to sign a certificate whenever proposed legislation fails the Bill of Rights test—and he simply hasn’t bothered to in this case. Mind you, Finlayson does thinks his rights trump our own…