The second half of the Government's rejig of spying laws passed its third reading yesterday as the Opposition warned that New Zealand was moving in the opposite direction to the rest of the world by granting spy agencies more powers.
The Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) or TICS bill passed into law with 61 votes in favour and 59 opposed.
The Act sets out obligations on telecommunications companies to provide eavesdropping capability to the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) and formalises obligations for those companies to consult with the bureau on matters of network security.
Communications Minister Amy Adams said the law was introduced to safeguard public safety and security.
"Interception of telecommunications plays a vital role in investigating, disrupting and prosecuting serious crime, detecting and prosecuting international and domestic cybercrime, combating threats to national security, and responding to emergencies," Ms Adams told Parliament.
With New Zealanders increasingly online, chatting, texting and sending emails rather than calling on home phone lines, "it is critical that our legislation keeps pace with these changes and allows surveillance agencies the ability to help keep New Zealanders safe".
However, she said the law did not change the authority of agencies to intercept telecommunications, did not change existing privacy protections and only related to real-time interception.
Labour deputy leader Grant Robertson said the Government was attempting to persuade the public the legislation was "a small technical bill for which they should switch off, get up and go and make a cup of tea".
"Nothing could could be further from the truth.
"Members of the public need to see this bill in the context of its companion bill the GCSB legislation ... which widely expanded the powers of the GCSB.
"This legislation [the TICS bill] operationalises those fundamental changes to the way our intelligence agencies operate."