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July 29, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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The GCSB Legislation Should Not Pass

It is a strange week when I find myself agreeing with Labour and the Greens. As a fiscally conservative and extremely socially liberal Tory, I despise any expansion of the powers of the state. Normally, the LabGreens combination is calling for more state power in our economic and social policy; for once, they are opposing the growth of the powers of government, and I stand with them. Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

To be fair to the Government, they inherited the mess at the GCSB. Most of the illegal spying occurred under the previous Labour Government. John Key is trying to clean up the mess that Labour left him with. The Prime Minister is, however, going about this in the wrong way. Clarifying who can be spied on explicitly is a good step. Expanding who the GCSB can spy on is a bad step.

Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the Kim Dotcom affair have showed us that our governments are spying on us like never before. It is a massive invasion of privacy, and an overreach by the state. The post-9/11 anti-terrorist security complex is gigantic, invasive and deplorable. Edward Snowden has revealed that the NSA can keep, store and search every piece of electronic data created by you. The GCSB is seeking similar powers and capabilities with this new legislation.

Every New Zealander, regardless of how banally, normally and decently they behave, will be tracked like a criminal out on parole. Almost every submission to the special select committee writing this legislation has been negative. If the proposed legislation, as it stands, passes, it will be an egregious assault on the civil rights and privacy of every New Zealander. The most horrifying thing is that powers like those we are about to give to the GCSB are never removed. They are only built upon. A future government under the aegis of some threat yet to come, will only give the GCSB more power. This is how police states are created.

This is very bad legislation. In the words of the world’s greatest dissident, German theologian Martin Luther, “I cannot and will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. Here I stand, I can do no other, so help me.”

In the unlikely event that a National MP reads this, please defy the whips and cross the floor. You owe it to your conscience.

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