Saying No to the GCSB and TICS | Opinion

As a member of a party that has offered its support to a Government that wishes to expand the surveillance powers of intelligence agencies, I am often asked a very obvious question: do I support the GCSB or TICS Bills?

No, I donít. Iím not an expert, either, in the fields that these bills affect, but it doesnít take an expert to figure out that they are bad news. Iíve been encouraged by supporters of the bills to consider the details. (To squabble over the details of a bad bill, however, is still in some ways to implicitly support it.)

We know that if the Law Society, New Zealander of the Year Dame Anne Salmond and even our own Mayor Dave Cull oppose these bills, then they are up against some thoughtful opposition.

ACT Leader John Banks thinks the balance is possible; if democratic principles and human rights restrictions are included, then the expanded surveillance powers are acceptable. In other words, we just need to fight the right balance between freedom and security.

Itís a well-meant offer, but neither he, nor John Key, nor the Labour Party (that launched this entire mess in the first place) can guarantee that the next person with the keys to the Cabinet will be just and noble. Nor can they guarantee that the cadre at the top will not give in to the most obvious, inevitable temptations that come with power of this kind Ė the power to watch you without you knowing and without having to tell you why.

It is incumbent upon all of our political leaders to say no to these bills. Not just because they will lead to the most obvious of all places Ė state tyranny Ė but because they should be standing up to anyone who claims that such immoral and perverted powers are necessary. The United States, entertainment industries, nefarious influences in our own backyard Ė all should be stood up to and told no, we donít want to go down this road. For we are free.

We can live free, independent and private lives if we choose, and still be secure in our persons, property and communities. There need not be any tension between the two, nor any concession made to those who would have us secure, no matter the cost to freedom.

Our message to the government should be, resoundingly, that ďnothing to hide and nothing to fearĒ should work both ways.
This article first appeared in Issue 18, 2013.
Posted 3:50pm Sunday 4th August 2013 by Guy McCallum.