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Kiwis rally against 'snoops' charter' law

PM Key calls protesters 'misinformed' and 'politically aligned'

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New Zealanders have mobilised against the country's “spooks' charter”, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) bill that's been criticised for legitimising formerly-illegal snooping on NZ residents.

Last week, The Register reported that a deal between the country's minority government and Peter Dunne made it nearly certain that the bill would pass parliament. However, Kiwis are taking exception to the legislation. Over the weekend, protest rallies attracted thousands to 11 locations around the country.

Speaking at the steps of parliament at the Wellington protest, Greens Party co-leader Dr Russel Norman suggested that those attending the rallies could conduct a freedom of information denial-of-service attack on the GCSB. According to the Otago Daily Times, Norman suggested that everyone should file OIA (Official Information Act) requests with the spy agency asking how many people attended the rallies nationwide.

“Maybe if they're so tied up dealing with 10s of thousands of OIA requests, it might give them less time to go around spying on us with their special powers,” he reportedly said.

The New Zealand Herald reports that more than 2,000 attended the anti-GCSB rally in Auckland, and 500 attended in Wellington.

Prime minister John Key dismissed the protests as small, saying that protesters are either “politically aligned” or “misinformed”.

The controversial legislation was introduced after the arrest of Kim Dotcom and fellow operators of the Megadownload Website in 2012 led to the discovery that the GCSB had intercepted his communications. This turned out to be illegal, since at the time Dotcom was a New Zealand resident.

The subsequent investigation revealed that the spy agency had worked with other agencies to spy on New Zealand citizens 88 times since 2003. The proposed laws would legalise the GCSB's domestic activities. ®

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