David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

Hundreds hear big-hitters rail against spy legislation

Kim Dotcom urged New Zealanders last night to oppose the GCSB spying bill - but predicted it would take a change of government next year to protect their privacy.

The comments came during a public meeting where 500 people heard Mr Dotcom join academics, civil libertarians and lawyers in opposing the legislation.

Mr Dotcom had the most personal story to tell - part of the current debate is the fallout following the discovery of illegal spying on him by the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).

Poll: More people believe Dotcom

He was joined on stage by New Zealander of the Year Dame Anne Salmond, Law Society representative Dr Rodney Harrison, QC, and Tech Liberty online rights advocate Thomas Beagle.

The meeting was chaired by retired Supreme Court judge Justice Sir Ted Thomas, who tongue-in-cheek pledged neutrality on the "iniquitous, scurrilous and foul bill".

Mr Dotcom said he expected a change of government would be needed to reverse the law, which is likely to pass with a one-vote majority now United Future leader Peter Dunne has pledged his support.

Labour MP David Cunliffe sat in the front row last night. His party leader, David Shearer, watched unnoticed from the rear of the hall with Labour's finance spokesman, David Parker.

"I am a living and breathing example of why the GCSB must not be given greater powers and limited accountability," Mr Dotcom said.

Referring to the special warrant signed to keep secret the illegal spying against him, he said government actions had been telling.

"[Their] first response was dishonesty, followed by an attempted cover-up.

"The new GCSB bill is like raising the speed limit after getting a speeding ticket. And it doesn't mean the GCSB won't be speeding again."

Dame Anne Salmond said the proposed spy law was one of a series - the others were passed recently - which threatened the rights of New Zealanders. She said Kiwis shouldn't suffer an "electronic McCarthyism" and called on politicians to show "backbone".

"At times like this they need to show some backbone and prove they are worthy of the trust we place in them."

- NZ Herald

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