The Security Intelligence Service (SIS) Amendment Bill contains insufficient mechanisms to control the misuse of the extensive surveillance powers it bestows on the SIS, Green Party security services spokesperson Keith Locke said today.
The Bill was reported back from the Intelligence and Security Committee this morning. Despite Green Party objections, the Bill was heard without any oral submissions.
“Covert surveillance of New Zealanders is a very sensitive matter,” said Mr Locke.
“This legislation allows the Director of Security to delegate authority as to who helps the SIS execute a warrant allowing for New Zealanders to be put under surveillance.
“There are not enough warrants, or changes to them, to justify such delegation.
“Twenty-seven warrants were recorded in the 2010 SIS annual report, only five of which were amended in the course of the year.”
Mr Locke welcomed the new provision in the Bill requiring the SIS to abide by human rights standards, however he pointed out that secrecy surrounding SIS operations made it difficult to discover when those standards have actually been breached.
“Virtually all the SIS does is outside the ambit of the Official Information Act, because of a clause excluding ‘security’ matters,” said Mr Locke
“We must therefore oppose a Bill which allows the intelligence services to watch people, track their movements, and intercept their electronic communications, without the accountability mechanisms we see in other government agencies such as the Police.”