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Accountability time looms

2 August 2017

"Ignorance is no defence" - or so we're told when it comes to the issue of obeying this countries laws.

It is the obligation of every citizen to ensure that they know the laws and comply with them or suffer penalties for their violation.

How feeble it is therefore, that the GCSB still claims it was unaware of the exact meaning of the laws which were supposed to prevent it from spying on NZ residents. How feeble it is that those responsible for the law-breaking that ensued were not penalised or even convicted for their transgressions.

At a time when the media is making the public hysterical about the "risk" to privacy that toy drones might represent, perhaps it's far better that we focus on our own government and its agencies as the biggest threat to our rights and privacy.

The crazy thing about spying activities undertaken with state-owned apparatus is that the government's own spy agency (the GCSB) apparently is unaware just who is using its resources.

Are you shirting me?

For some background on what I'm saying in today's column, take a read of this NZH story.

If the story is true (yeah, one must always acknowledge that we now live in an era of "fake news" where the mainstream media can no longer be trusted to present the unbiased, unaltered facts), the people of New Zealand should be gravely concerned over the state of our spy agency. We should be even more concerned at the actions or inactions of a government that would allow this to happen and go unpunished!

One would think that an agency trusted with so much power over the people of the nation would be held to very high standards of accountability -- yet apparently not.

If you were found to have bugged your neighbour's house or put a webcam in your own toilet then chances are you'd be facing charges, prosecution and perhaps even a spell in the pokey. When the government's own agency does something similar, in direct violation of the law then the government's response seems to be "she'll be right mate, what's the problem?".

Absolutely not good enough and now that we're just weeks out from an election, I think it's time to remind those in power that if they won't hold the spooks to account for their actions, we will hold *them* to account.

We, as mere citizens and taxpayers, can't punish the GCSB for its transgressions -- but we can punish the politicians who have given them a "get out of jail free" card on this occasion. And remember, it wasn't just Kim Dotcom who they illegally spied on, it was also another 87 Kiwis or residents. This wasn't an isolated case, it was systemic.

Even worse is the fact that the GCSB seems to have handed over the keys to its spying infrastructure to the USA without any form of monitoring or accountability.


So I think one of the key questions we need to be asking every candidate in the upcoming election is "what will you do to stop this wanton abuse of the rights of good honest Kiwis by the GCSB and its spying partners?"

If we don't get an acceptable answer then let the candidates concerned know that they won't be getting your vote.

The upcoming election is the only chance we get to hold our political masters accountable for the past 3 years of abuse so don't miss the opportunity to make them very much aware that now *THEY* are being judged.

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