Feeds

Dotcom, NZ PM clash over spy laws

'Why are you turning red, prime minister?'

The Power of One Infographic

New Zealand's proposed revisions to the laws that govern its Government Communications Security Bureau have provided a venue for political theatre by Kim Dotcom, who choppered into Wellington to speak against the bill.

With only 15 minutes to speak to a parliamentary hearing into proposed spy laws in New Zealand, Kim Dotcom didn't have time to deliver much of substance, so the resulting political theatre shouldn't surprise anybody.

He fired off a tirade directed at the United States, New Zealand's spy agency the GCSB, and prime minister John Key.

The hearings cover the increasingly sore point of expanding the Government Communications Security Bureau's remit to allow it to spy on New Zealand citizens. Like spy agencies in many other countries, the GCSB is prevented by law from spying on locals.

Dotcom's gripe against the bureau, upheld by NZ courts, is that it spied on him although he was a Kiwi resident – and the hearing gave him a platform to take his complaint directly to the prime minister.

“I have the misfortune of experiencing what happens when surveillance powers are abused and unlawful destruction of property, reputation and freedom. It is an injustice that I continue to fight every day,” he told the hearing.

The fire was lit when an opposition member asked Dotcom if he thought the PM knew he was going to be raided before American and New Zealand law enforcement raided his mansion north of Auckland in 2012.

Kim Dotcom: “Oh, he knew about me before the raid. I know about that.”

John Key: “I didn't know.”

Dotcom: “You know, I know.”

Key: “I know you don't know. I know you don't know, but that's fine.”

Dotcom: “Why are you turning red, Prime Minister?”

Key: “I'm not. Why are you sweating?”

Dotcom: “It's hot. I have a scarf.”

However, even with the theatre, the nature of the amendments to the spy bill got a serious look-in. The bill would allow the GCSB to provide co-operation with other agencies (including in some cases agencies from other countries), and that co-operation could include spying on New Zealand residents.

“The new GCSB bill is drafted to pave the way forward for the agency to perform spying on behalf of other agencies. Just like any partner in the five eye spy club, the GCSB gets access to the five eye spy cloud. This cloud contains every email, phone call, checked message, SMS message, almost all communication of every New Zealander. The proposed GCSB bill is not a clarification. It's a huge overreach by an agency that has shown it cannot reach eagerly within the far more limited powers it has right now,” he said.

The PM put forward the argument that agencies outsourcing an activity to the GCSB was similar to individuals outsourcing their file storage to Megaupload, to which Dotcom responded “On the GCSB spy cloud you share private information about citizens that you don’t have any right to access. That is the big difference.”

TV New Zealand has video of some of the exchange between Dotcom and Key here. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.