The GCSB Bill passed in Parliament last night with
assurances from Prime Minister John Key that it would not open
the door to wholesale spying on New Zealanders.
He made the clearest statement yet on metadata - logs about
communication such as emails and phone calls, as opposed to
''There have been claims this Bill offers no protection of
metadata and allows for wholesale collection of metadata
without a warrant,'' he said.
''None of that is true.''
Under the Bill, metadata was treated in the same way as the
content of communication.
When the GCSB wanted to access metadata, it would be treated
with the same level of seriousness and protection as if the
GCSB was accessing the actual content of a communication.
After initially dismissing opposition to the Bill as
politically motivated and misinformed, Mr Key has been more
active in recent days in defending the legislation to try to
settle concerns of New Zealanders.
In the end, the majority was two votes, not the one expected,
because the Maori Party, which opposed the Bill, did not have
enough MPs in the precinct to cast its three votes and cast
The vote was 61 votes in favour to 59 against.
Labour leader David Shearer said revelations by former US
National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden about
spying had created global disquiet and the GCSB Bill had
fuelled fear about the State's ability to pry.
He said New Zealand had lost an opportunity to be a world
leader, ''charting a path through these dilemmas that would
act as a model for other countries''.
''This is a sad day. We are here passing legislation that is
ad hoc. It is Mickey Mouse. It will do nothing to reassure
New Zealanders that their private lives are safe from the
prying eyes of spies.''
Mr Key said he had rarely seen so much misinformation and
conspiracy about a subject as had been perpetrated about the
''That has some citizens agitated and alarmed, which I
regret. But my regret about that would be nothing compared
with my regret if this measure was not passed.
''This Bill is being passed today because its provisions are
Mr Key set out in his speech a two-step process he would use
to grant interception warrants before the GCSB could see the
content of New Zealanders' communications under the cyber
security function, which would usually involve the consent of
the person involved.
The assistance function of the GCSB would not entail
An inquiry had identified that the GCSB, New Zealand's
foreign intelligence agency, had helped other domestic
agencies just 88 times in the past 10 years, or nine times a
year. Such assistance will be unequivocally lawful in the
''So this isn't - and never will be - a wholesale spying on
New Zealanders,'' he said.
''It isn't a revolution in the way New Zealand conducts its
intelligence operations ...
"It simply makes clear what the GCSB may and may not do.''
Attorney-general Chris Finlayson made a stinging attack in
his speech on some of the more prominent opponents of the
Bill, including New Zealander of the Year Dame Anne Salmond.
Her suggestion that anyone who supported the Bill should not
turn up for Anzac Day had been ''disgraceful''.