GCSB, protesting and the internetz.

I realise that many readers of this blog will think that I am merely an artsy, stroppy feminist with too many opinions traversing policy areas across the spectrum. This is a deliberate strategy that I have undertaken for this stream of publication.

So to ‘break the fourth wall’, I am now going to give you a little of my IRL specifics, in order that what I say about the GCSB Bill now before the House in New Zealand, has a little more validity.

I have been around the IT industry in our country since my early university days. Yep, I failed Comp 101, because it bored me rigid, rather than not understanding how to write binary code. I didn’t want to end up working with those kinda people, doing that kinda work. My sister is of a different personality type, and she loved it, and has had a twenty-five-year career (and counting) in IT, as has my ex-husband. It was during my marriage that I learned most of what I know about the internet, due to contracts my then-husband was working on for his employer, a major MNC which operates in Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. 

Don’t kid yourselves that there is anything ‘private’ about what you do on the net.

Don’t buy into the idea that you are ‘a consumer’, the internet is ‘a product’, nor that it is there to entertain you.

What we now call the internet began as Arpanet and DArpanet, projects of the USA Department of Defense, in collaboration with research projects at hand-picked Universities in the USA. It was originally an IT research program to create a secure way of transmitting and collecting data for the DOD. These days, we’d call that an intranet, similar to the kind of WAN that operates inside most corporations for administrative purposes.

The Bill going through our Parliament at the moment is a stage of DOD ‘taking back’ the internet from public use. Surveillance and transmission of surveilled data was always the primary purpose of the net; the Patriot Act in 2001, followed by Terrorism Suppression legislation in most global jurisdictions, was a first attempt to ‘plug the holes’. Creating crimes of knowledge, of dissemination of information, was the beginning of a global campaign by DOD to regain domination of the medium of internet traffic.

It is obvious in the trial of Bradley Manning, the attempts to smear and discredit Julian Assange of Wikileaks, the hunting down of Edward Snowden (still on-going), that the DOD is very serious about extending its’ capacities to control activities outside the borders of the USA.

This is a breach of the sovereignty of every other nation on earth, and most people are just going to sit by and watch as it happens, not making the connections to totalitarian control of their own lives.

So, on these grounds, I urge every thinking citizen of Aotearoa/New Zealand to join in the protests against the GCSB Bill that is before the House. There is a nationwide protest organised for Saturday 27th July 2013, all events beginning at 2pm.
Because this is only the thin end of a wedge that will see a totalitarian surveillance society established in every nation in the world, if we, the people, do not stop it. It’s too late to make submissions, but this is something anyone can do.
Events in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch, Dunedin, Napier are listed on FB and there is also a general group for discussion. (outlinks)

Our MP’s have spoken out against this Bill – here on frogblog and here and here on the main Greens website.

If you want to access the submissions that went to the Select Committee hearings, they can be found here (pdf to download).

If you want to view the submissions made during the hearings, video has been uploaded to You-tube. (outlinks)
Submitters Thomas Beagle, from Tech Liberty, Susan Chalmers and Jordan Carter from Internet NZ, Micheal Koziarski, Vikram Kumar, Simon Terry, all made submissions as working professionals contracting in the IT industry.
Keith Locke and Kate Dewes and Robert Green (nuclear disarmament activists) made submissions on the political aspects of the Bill.

Keith Locke’s final Back Benches appearance

Keith with Damian and Wallace

Keith with Damian and Wallace

Wednesday night at the Back Benches pub across from Parliament is turning into a bit of a regular affair for the youth wings of most of the parties – last night was no exception as Young Greens (and a few older folk) turned out to support Green MP Keith Locke, who is leaving Parliament at this election after twelve years of service as a Member. The panel consisted of Labour Deputy PM, the Hon Annette King, and National’s MP for Wairarapa, John Hayes, along with Keith. Minor cameo to Labour candidate for Wairarapa, civil liberties lawyer Michael Bott, who propped up the bar while enjoying John Hayes increasingly uninformative responses.

It’s been an interesting week in politics – Suffrage Day on Monday, 19th September got a mention, along with our figures for gender pay inequity; there is of course the rushing through of the Search and Surveillance Bill under urgency, which got quite a bit of time; and lest we forget, Rugby was a winner on the night too, especially for Tonga up in Northland Stadium. Sex education had been a hot topic over the weekend papers, so convicted paedophile Graham Capill’s former colleague from United Future party, now the leader of the Kiwi Party, was dragged in to discuss the ‘christian’ position on just how much adolescents going through puberty need to know about what the changes in their bodies mean. I wonder if he supports the concept that children should have the right to tell an adult not to sexually abuse them? Oh, that’s right, if they don’t know the words to use to name sexual acts, they can’t complain about them? Yeah right …. Young Labour supporters were sensible and coherent by comparison, speaking very well about what kind of sex education adolescents need.

Police Association president Greg O’Connor got his fifteen minutes to defend the illegal actions of Police officers, to the noisy disapproval of a large proportion of the crowd. Got very close to contempt of Court by criticising the Supreme Court decision, but then pulled himself up when asked for clarification by Damian Christie. Fascinating. The arrogance of sworn officers who maintain that their criminal activity is different to any other citizen’s criminal activity is mind-blowing.

But don’t take my word for it, feel free to watch the episode on TVNZ On-demand here.

A waste of time

I’m a republican.  I always have been – Although I shy away from the word these days because of the connotations it carries in a world dominated by American culture.  I find the idea that people can be born into positions of power and privilege while others are excluded repugnant.  But, having said that I’m a little bit in two minds about Keith Locke’s bill on republicanism being pulled from the ballot.  I’ve come to the conclusion that, interesting as they are, debates about the head of state, the flag and even entrenching the constitution are not likely to make a significant difference to people’s lives, or to the state of the planet. I think I’d rather have seen any of the other Green MP’s bills drawn than this one. I haven’t read all of them but from their titles they all appear to address issues I consider more urgent. (especially Kevin Hague’s Fisheries Precautionary Approach Amendment Bill)

On the other hand this republican bill probably has the potential to generate the most debate of all of them.  That could prove a distraction for parliament and, as Ari noted in his earlier post:

Distraction from what, exactly? The only thing they seem to be doing is cutting funding to things. I’m perfectly happy for the government to be distracted from that. ;)

So, yeah, let’s waste some time rather than have this Parliament continue to use its time trashing the environment and sabotaging our social framework. let’s spend several months talking about whether Prince William and Kate will come to visit us if we snub them like this, or whether Colin Meads would wear a rugby club tie if he were president, or whether we suffer from colonial cringe because we let the English pick up the bill for our head of state. What will happen to our women’s magazines? Will Buckingham Palace loan us some beefeater hats for our new head of state? What will Australia think? I’m all for having all these debates for the next three years rather than having John Key’s government debating and deciding on ACC, emissions trading or mining.

Melissing In Action

Well, hasn’t it been a great week for National’s Mt Albert candidate Melissa Lee!

First, the dodgy election video from last year’s general election campaign, and now the “motorway would keep South Auckland criminals out” comments.

Aside from the outrageous prejudice exhibited against South Aucklanders in those comments, I’ve been pondering the logic behind them all morning. And I think I’ve finally got it.

Last year Keith Locke gave me a copy of a letter from Bryan Jackson, Acting Chair of Transit NZ (now NZTA). Jackson states in that letter:

The forecasts of unconstrained growth in Auckland suggest the Waterview Connection will be at near capacity in 2015.

What that means, in effect, is that it will be fully congested as soon as it opens. So I guess that’s how Melissa reasons the Waterview Connection will keep South Auckland’s criminals out of Mount Albert – they’ll be so discouraged by the traffic jams resulting from it that they’ll find somewhere else to burgle.

Clever Melissa! Wonder what she can stuff up tomorrow.

I would hate to be Chris Finlayson

Attorney General Chris Finlayson is one of the National Party Ministers whom I think is generally a nice guy. He’s not a nasty far right ideologue, and he deals with issues pragmatically and fairly on the basis of his considerable experience as a senior barrister.

So he must have been squirming yesterday, when National rammed a Bill through Parliament that, in his capacity as Attorney General, he opposed.

Finlayson’s report to Parliament as Attorney General on the Parole (Extended Supervision Orders) Amendment Bill is extraordianarily condemnatory of a Bill promoted by his own Party. He states:

… I conclude the new power to impose residential restrictions after 12 months also raises apparent inconsistencies with s 22 Bill of Rights Act as authorising arbitrary detention.

It is not settled whether justification under s 5 is available for either s 22 or s 26. However, it is not necessary to determine that point here, because the apparent objectives of this Bll could be determined in a rights consistent manner.

It would appear to be possible for the imposition of restrictions amounting to long term detention to be achieved in a rights consistent way through the use of the preventive detention regime or through amendment to the Sentencing Act 2003 to allow courts to impose an extended parole period as part of the sentence following conviction for specific offending. This is broadly the scheme that was adopted in Canada.

That this Bill’s objectives could be achieved without contravening the right against arbitrary detention or double jeopardy does not provide justification for these inconsistencies. The state should not detain offenders solely on the basis of preventing future offending, nor should it punish offenders twice for the same offence.

But, despite their own Attorney General’s concerns, the Government rushed this Bill through under urgency and did not even disclose those concerns to other political parties. Keith Locke was rightly concerned.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I believe serious sex offenders should be locked up until the Parole Board is convinced they are not longer a threat.

But I do not think introducing arbitrary detention and double jeopardy into our legal system is the way to go about it in a fair and democratic society, and nor does a senior Cabinet Minister Chris Finlayson.

But he was over-ridden, and the Bill pushed through all stages in an hour under urgency, with no opportunity for Select Committe submissions and hearings. Finlayson must be spewing!

I wonder how long someone with the integrity of Chris Finlayson will be able to tolerate being a senior Minister in this Government. Another Bill will be coming back to the House soon – ACT MP David Garrett’s Three Strikes Bill. Finalyson has already reported that this too is inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act (on the basis of disproportionately severe sentencting). It will be interesting to see what he does if the Government endorse it against his opinion.

There have always been scumbags in Parliament who will sacrifice principle to personal aggrandisement, but I don’t count Finlayson among them. For a start, he could earn a lot more outside Government or Parliament than in it, and I also believe he is someone who stands by his principles and has the well-being of all humanity at heart.

So how long will he tolerate being over-ridden by those in the National Party with a desire to appease David Garrett and his redneck bigoted constituency?