Privacy International Report on NZ expresses concerns around Five Eyes membership

The recent Right to Privacy in New Zealand report submitted by Privacy International to the UN Human Rights Council highlights concerns about the 2017 New Zealand Intelligence and Security Act and our participation in the Five-Eyes spy network.

From the summary article "New Zealand must respect its international human rights obligations" posted at their site:

The Act governs New Zealand’s intelligence agencies, including the Government Communications Security Bureau (“GCSB”).  The law distinguishes between two categories of people: (1) New Zealand citizens and permanent residents, and (2) foreigners. “Type 1” warrants authorise surveillance of the former; “Type 2” warrants authorise surveillance of the latter. This two-tiered warrant system constitutes a form of discrimination prohibited under international human rights law, including under articles 2 and 26 of the ICCPR. Especially noteworthy is that “Type 2” warrants only require the approval of a specified government Minister, without the involvement of any judicial or otherwise independent authority, as is required by international human rights standards.

The Intelligence and Security Act was legislation that came out of the much debated 2015 review of the NZ Intelligence Review by Sir Michael Cullen and Dame Patsy Reddy. The Review pushed for a consolidation of the two Acts governing the NZSIS and the GCSB and this is precisely what happened in the 2017 Act. The Act blurs the distinction between external and internal intelligence agencies and allowed the GCSB to legally spy on New Zealanders. Submissions made by the NZCCL on the NZ Intelligence and Security Act can be read here.

In its report, Privacy International report recommends that NZ "take all necessary measures to ensure that its surveillance activities conform to its obligations under international human rights law, particularly the right to privacy" as NZ's surveillance activities do not conform to international human rights law.

The NZCCL supports the report. Surveillance is a civil liberties issue and there needs to be more discussion in this country and overseas about the ethics and morality of mass surveillance.