New Zealand has approved a new bill that will expand the power of its spy agency and allows for domestic surveillance. The bill’s passage has been met with plenty of criticism most notably from Kim Dotcom, founder of Mega, who said “Today is the death of privacy” on Twitter.
New Zealand passed the controversial bill by a very close margin, 61 voted for the bills while 59 voted against, reports Russia Today. The Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) bill grants the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) power to provide surveillance and monitor New Zealand citizens to aid in any police, Defense Force or Security Intelligence Service investigation.
During the bill’s debate prior to voting, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key responded to the concerns raised by citizens, reports the Agence France-Presse. Key said of the bill and the expanded powers of the GCSB, “This is not, and never will be, about wholesale spying on New Zealanders.” Key said there are actual threats to the government that warrant the bill’s existence. Dotcom’s involvement and opposition comes as no surprise, considering his stance on Internet privacy, and Key’s comments may come across as a bit ironic.
In 2012, notes AFP, the GCSB illegally spied on Dotcom, who founded Megaupload, as part of a larger crackdown on Internet piracy. Later reports revealed the GCSB has spied on dozens of citizens and instead of creating laws that would prevent the spy agency from overstepping its boundaries again the new bill, according to its opponents, now allows for domestic spying. The opponents of the bill fear a National Security Agency (NSA) level of spying on citizens.
Key says the change in law would allow for better coordination and cooperation between agencies, allowing for better surveillance which could prevent unwarranted spying on citizens. Facebook also chimed in on the bill stating Blanket rules requiring data retention and accessibility are blunt tools, which have the potential to infringe on civil liberties and constrain economic growth,” reports AFP.
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On Wednesday, Dotcom took to Twitter to protest the bill’s passage. Dotcom created a little ditty declaring the death of privacy in a series of rhyming verses.
— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) August 21, 2013