Have you ever been a member of an ‘environmental’ organisation, joined a Union, given money to a cause, signed a petition, been involved in a protest at any time in your life? Posted something on Facebook that might upset someone, or just mouthed off in the pub about the government/police/business/anything? Are you Maori? Are you a member of a minority group? Immigrant? Do you have interests that are considered outside the norm? Have you a family member, live in the same house or associate with anyone that fits into an above category?
What does the future hold — Would you take a stand against a big business polluter who is affecting your child’s health? Are you the type of person to say, hey that’s not right? Protest a motorway being built past your home? State asset sales? School closures? Mining National Parks? GE? Land rights? Toxic spills? Access to healthcare? Water rights? Your home, your family, your community at risk?
If you answered yes or even a maybe to any of the above — you need to know about the GCSB Bill and you should be joining the protest this Saturday, 27 July.
A very quick rundown on the GCSB Bill
The GCSB was a foreign intelligence agency. After it got caught illegally spying on New Zealanders at the request of overseas governments, John Key’s National Government changed the law so it can now spy on New Zealand citizens and residents. That information can be passed on to foreign governments and private companies can contract the GCSB for information.
This completely erodes New Zealanders rights to freedom of expression and freedom from unreasonable search or seizure under New Zealand law. The GCSB bill gives the astonishingly far reaching powers, with the only effective controls in the hands of politicians.
Why do the GCSB need such power? Well, actually no one knows. You need to watch this brilliant piece of journalism from Campbell Live. It’s only 16 mins and will catch you up on what’s happening.
What happens when these powers are abused? Arrest, destruction of property, destruction of reputation, control.
The Human Rights Commission, the Privacy Commission, the Council for Civil Liberties, the Law Society, the former head of the GCSB, distinguished judges and defence lawyers, and NZer of the year Dame Anne Salmond are all lined up against this Bill — we should all be.
Why “But I don’t do anything wrong” doesn’t matter
This isn’t about terrorism or security. It’s not about catching bad people before they do bad things. It’s about control. It’s about money.
Anyone who speaks out against a corporate entity that is in anyway seen to halt a business from doing it’s work is therefore seen as acting against the economics benefits of this country and may have information gathered against them. Anyone who has stood up for an environmental cause can now be a target. Anyone who has spoken out against injustice can now be a target. Anyone can now be legally spied on by our own government.
What we are talking about here is mass trawling and collection of all phone calls, text messages, emails, web searches, web views, people you meet with, movements. The information will be stored somewhere and can be accessed and ‘triangulated. ‘ What that means we’re not exactly sure, but it certainly doesn’t mean ‘used in context’.
Are you likely to stand up and speak out about oil drilling in New Zealand if you have something to hide and know that an oil company could be using the GCSB to gather information on you? And we all have something to hide somewhere, or someone we want to protect.
And another kicker, New Zealanders are footing the bill for this security. We will be paying hundreds of millions of dollars to spy on ourselves.
The case against me
(I post this for illustrative purposes only, not to give the GCSB or anyone else a reason to actually spy on me. There’s really nothing very interesting going on right now anyway…)
I upset the economic interests of some large corporations by teaching people how to step out of the corporate control of our food system. I am a grassroots activist who supports community resilience, access to healthcare and quality food and education. I wish to secure access to quality food and water for all New Zealanders, halt the introduction of GMOs, and stop corporate polluters from screwing things up for all of us. I stand up and say when I think something is wrong. I write articles about things I care about. I sign petitions. I write letters to MPs about things that matter. I post causes on Facebook I believe in. I have attended the occasional protest. I was once a member of a union. I have been a member of several environmental organisations. I’ve led a rich and varied life and associated with a lot of interesting people.
I sound really dodgy right? A real threat to NZ economic interests…
Well, really I’m just some opinionated woman who cares about stuff. I’m a soon-to-be mother of two, trying to run two small business, who spends a lot of time gardening and feeding people and working on community projects that I think are swell. There is no reason to collect information on me like I’m an enemy of the state, embroiled in domestic terrorism and a threat to the nation’s security. I’m just not interesting enough for all that.
There is no reason we need these laws
There are no real threats to this country, our politicians just want to get on board with the Americans because of a naive belief it will lead to better business and open trading with the States.
We are becoming Americanised — our security, our police, our military will all be getting special training in how to deal with ‘enemies’ courtesy of the US that sees the whole world as hostile.
New Zealanders don’t win out of this scenario. We all become potential enemies. For fiercely independent people, our politicians have sold us out for some cheap trinkets and a grandiose sense of power. All New Zealanders should be marching on Saturday.