Audrey Young

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

Key: Opposition can get warrant details

Prime Minister John Key said last night that Opposition members of the Intelligence and Security Committee would be able to find out how many times the GCSB spy agency had received warrants to intercept the content of communications under its cyber security function.

Mr Key said that under changes to the bill, every year the number of warrants issued in categories would be declared to the Intelligence and Security Committee, which included the leader of the Opposition, David Shearer, and his nominee, Greens co-leader Russel Norman.

"At that committee, somebody would be able to ask the very obvious question - 'when it comes to cyber security, have any warrants been issued that sought to look at content for New Zealanders?"' he said.

In a concession last week, Mr Key said he would not let the GCSB look at the content of communication when he initially approved warrants in the spy agency's cyber security function.

He said yesterday that for the most part, warrants to look at content for cyber intrusion would be against foreigners, because they were the source of most cyber attacks.

But occasionally foreign attackers cloned New Zealand computers and that was the type of instance under which the content of a citizen's computer might be accessed.

Mr Key also reiterated the Government's view that any move to collect metadata of a New Zealander would require a warrant to be signed by the Prime Minister and the Commissioner of Security Warrants.

The bill will be debated in Parliament again this afternoon and if it completes its committee stages, it will pass its final reading tomorrow.

Mr Key will speak in the third reading debate, for his first time in the parliamentary debate.

Asked whether the GCSB would be able to conduct widespread surveillance of the kind that the US National Security Agency conducted, he said: "If the question you are asking me is will there be wholesale surveillance of people's emails, where they received those emails from and what the content of those emails is, I can categorically rule that out."

- NZ Herald

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