Report – By the PMC news desk
Thousands of protesters took to the streets in New Zealand today to demonstrate against a government communications agency accused of spying on Pacific nations, including Fiji, and proposed law giving it greater powers to spy on NZ citizens.
More than 1000 people protested in central Auckland outside the Town Hall, including internet millionaire Kim Dotcom who is a vocal opponent of NZ’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).
Big crowds gathered in protest staged in 11 other cities and downs against Prime Minister John Key’s proposed “spy bill”, which would give extra powers to the GCSB.
The legislation is likely to be passed in Parliament after United Future’s Peter Dunne confirmed earlier this week that he would back the controversial bill after changes that have been widely condemned as “window-dressing”.
Once passed into law, the bill would extend the powers of the GCSB to allow it to provide information for the New Zealand Police, Defence Force and the Security Intelligence Service.
Opponents say it will unnecessarily intrude into the lives of ordinary people.
The GCSB’s tasks are reported to include signals intelligence, communications security, anti-bugging measures, and computer security.
‘Kill the bill’
Investigative journalist Nicky Hager has been among critics of the GCSB.
A leaked report in 2006 listed several countries, including Japan, the Philippines, Argentina, France, Vietnam, and many small Pacific island states that had been the target of GCSB.
Many placards in the Auckland protest proclaimed “Kill the bill” and likened the bill to 1984 after the George Orwell book on a “big brother” state based on public surveillance.
The GCSB controls two “listening stations” – a satellite communications interception station at GCSB Waihopai near Blenheim and a radio communications interception station at GCSB Tangimoana near Palmerston North.
A Pacific Media Centre photographer was at the Auckland protest today to capture images.