Audrey Young

Audrey Young is the New Zealand Herald’s political editor.

GCSB spy agency bill extension

Prime Minister John Key. Photo / Christine Cornege
Prime Minister John Key. Photo / Christine Cornege

Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee has extended the date for submissions on the controversial GCSB spy agency bill by eight days.

Submissions were to have closed yesterday, but will now close on June 21.

A spokeswoman for Prime Minister John Key said the date had been extended at the request of Opposition members.

Internet NZ also made public calls this week for the submission date to be extended in the wake of revelations of data collection on a massive scale by the US National Security Agency from internet giants such as Google, Facebook and Apple.

Mr Key chairs the committee which will begin sitting in early July to hear submissions on the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill.

The bill extends the powers of the GCSB to private sector cyber security when national security interests apply, not just Government Communications. It allows the GCSB to spy on New Zealanders in some circumstances, including when an agency with a warrant such as the SIS or the police seeks the assistance of the GCSB, and when the GCSB is conducting its cyber security functions under the act - such as working out if a particular cyber system is under attack from abroad or being spied on.

Act leader John Banks sits on the committee and yesterday Parliament agreed to replace United Future leader Peter Dunne with senior National minister Tony Ryall.

Mr Dunne resigned as a minister a week ago after being identified as the main suspect as the leaking of a report on the GCSB.

Opposition leader David Shearer and Greens co-leader Russel Norman sit on the committee too.

The committee must report the bill back to Parliament by July 26.

A companion bill to the GCSB amendment bill, the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Bill, is before the law and order select committee. Submissions on it closed yesterday and after public hearings and consideration it must be reported back to Parliament by September 20.

- NZ Herald

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