New spy laws legalising domestic communications interception were narrowly passed in New Zealand yesterday by a vote of 61 to 59 in Parliament.
The Government argued the laws are necessary to clarify the powers of the Government Communications Services Bureau (GCSB), New Zealand's cyber security agency, when it is asked to assist law enforcement agencies such as Police and the Security Intelligence Service.
That clarification was needed because, in a major embarrassment to the Government, surveillance mounted against Mega Upload founder Kim Dotcom in late 2011 and early 2012 at the request of the FBI was subsequently found to be illegal.
Opponents fear the law has done more than just clarify existing rules, however, and has broadened interception capabilities to allow the mass collection of domestic communications metadata and content.
The law's passage through Parliament coincided with Edward Snowden's ongoing disclosures about international communications interception which revealed data collection and mining on an unprecedented scale.
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