Metadata and media bias | The Jackal

6 Jul 2013

Metadata and media bias

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

The bill is silent on metadata.

The assumption is that the GCSB currently collects it about New Zealanders, despite not being explicitly empowered to, because it is not explicitly prevented from doing so under the current law's protections against spying on New Zealanders.

Why has the media accepted John Key's claims at face value? Just because he says the law isn't clear, doesn't mean that's the case. In fact the law is very clear and encompasses all information that a New Zealand citizen transmits, including metadata.

Here's the relevant part of the Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 (PDF):

14 Interceptions not to target domestic communications

Neither the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person (not being a foreign organisation or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.

Metadata is a part of a person's communication that the GCSB act explicitly states the agency must not intercept. Why Audrey Young thinks otherwise isn't clear, but perhaps a little bit more consideration of the subject matter before pen gets put to paper is in order.