Big brother creeps closer

Green MP Keith Locke is warning of the dangers of the New Zealand police buying into the FBI-led ‘Server in the Sky’ network to share biometric and other information.

International reports suggest New Zealand has already committed in principle to participating in the US initiated programme. It would enable biometric details such as retinal scans, genetic information, palm and fingerprints and other personal information to be swapped between countries.

“There is nothing wrong with sharing fingerprint information on specific criminal cases, just as our police do now,” Mr Locke, the Party’s police spokesperson, says.

“However, having direct access to the FBI database is more risky.

“People who have committed no crime could be prevented from coming to New Zealand on the basis of FBI ‘suspicions’, which may well have no foundation. We know the Bush administration has an incredibly broad definition of ‘the bad guys’. This can include genuine political dissenters, critics of US foreign policy or entirely innocent people caught up in cases of mistaken identity.

“Both the US and New Zealand are now collecting biometric information on people who have committed no crime, so giving each other access to biometric databases raises serious issues of privacy and proper legal process.

“Before we leap into this arrangement, there needs to be more thought and public discussion about the regulation of such a system. At this stage there has been no consideration on how the privacy of ordinary citizens would be preserved against the whims of those operating the system.