We are being watched now

Via the NBR I hear that ISPs can snoop on us from April the 5th.

S92 was nothing. The Telecommunications (Intercept Capability) Act, coming into full force on April 5, will let the Police, SIS and the GCSB (Government Communications Security Bureau) execute search warrants on internet service providers to grab users’ data

Right now the law applies to voice calls, and April 5th sees that extended to everything passing over your ISP. That means email, VOIP calls, blogging, torrenting, facebook personal messages, intra-company communications, emails to your lawyer – and so on.

As the NBR helpfully points out, the spy base at Waihopai “has been able to tap internet communications systems for years” and from ISPANZ President Jamie Baddeley we hear

“some Ispanz members have already engaged already in legal interception. The police have been very pragmatic. I don’t think it’s a big issue.”

So nothing has changed really. Wire tapping can only be in place with a court order, it seems that this is happening already and that is how it should be. We just have to, as a society, make sure that the overall number of cases is low, and that tapping isn’t retrospective or go on for too long. Find the bad thing that you got the court order for then make an arrest, find nothing (or something else only) then turn it off.

But, along with section s92 of the NZ copyright act, the Australian Government’s somewhat clueless efforts to censor their internet and the NZ libel laws, we have an increasing chilling effect on our online behaviour, and expensive unwieldy compliance for our ISPs.

The ISPs are struggling merely to get us connected, let alone at a decent speed. Now they are being asked to police content, place surveillance capability in line and (in Australia) censor. All this adds cost and complexity, and ultimately degrades the service that we get in our homes and businesses.

Keith Locke from Green Party has the last word

“No one is denying we may catch a few more criminals through these powers, but there is a huge downside for us. The big downside has two aspects. One is our privacy, and the other is how these powers could be misused by agencies of the government.”

Published by Lance Wiggs


One reply on “We are being watched now”

  1. This is an extension of the current act that allows security forces to listen to phone conversations. Why the surprise?

    Intercept mechanisms are a requirement for all telcos and have been for years. What makes your emails more important than another person’s phone calls – get my point? This is already being done anyway, with another technology…


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