New Zealand Law Society - Intelligence and Security Bill passes third reading

Intelligence and Security Bill passes third reading

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Legislation which updates the legislative framework and increases the transparency of the intelligence and security agencies has been passed in Parliament.

The Intelligence and Security Bill replaces the four Acts that currently apply to the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), the Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS), and their oversight bodies. A number of provisions will come into force on 1 April 2017 while the rest of the legislation will come into force six months after the Royal assent.

The aim of the Bill is to update the legislative framework and improve the transparency of New Zealand’s intelligence and security agencies.

In particular, the Bill will:

  • Create a single Act to cover the agencies, replacing the four separate acts which currently exist,
  • Provide for the issuing of warrants for intelligence collection, with special features for any warrant involving a New Zealander,
  • Provide for how the NZSIS and the GCSB relate to each other,
  • Strengthen the role of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security in relation to the NZSIS and the GCSB,
  • Provide greater Parliamentary oversight of the two bodies, and
  • Impose greater accountability and transparency requirements on them.

Prime Minister Bill English, who is also the National Security and Intelligence Minister, has welcomed the passing of the bill.

“It is crucial our agencies operate within a legal framework which maintains both the security and the rights of New Zealanders,” he says.

“This legislation ensures that the agencies remain effective against complex security threats while safeguarding the privacy, human rights and democratic freedoms we expect in our society.”

The legislation implements the majority of the recommendations made in the first independent review of intelligence and security, carried out by Sir Michael Cullen and Dame Patsy Reddy.

“I would like to acknowledge the almost unanimous support this Bill received in the House. It recognises that national security is a fundamental responsibility of any government and reflects the cooperation across political parties on this legislation.”