#stoptheGCSBbill: Crowd-funded political activism

#stoptheGCSBbill: Crowd-funded political activism

A crowd-sourced campaign to stop the GCSB bill, which would grant the Government greater surveillance powers over New Zealand residents and citizens, has surpassed its funding goal.

Many New Zealanders and organisations, including the New Zealand Law Society, Kim Dotcom and current New Zealander of the Year Dame Anne Salmond, have expressed opposition to the bill and the speed at which it is being pushed through parliament.

At the time of writing, the Stop the GCSB Bill campaign had raised $5,480—well over its funding goal of $3,300—on crowd-funding websites PledgeMe and Promoki.

The extra funding means that in addition to a billboard and poster campaign in Auckland, posters will be put up in extra places like Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin and Palmerston North.

Contributors to the campaign are given the opportunity to upload a picture of themselves, so the campaign can blur out their faces and use them on the billboard and in posters.

One of the campaign’s organisers, Jackson James Wood, says many people still feel they need clarity about the bill. 

“A lot of the concerns were about privacy and the ability of the GCSB to spy without warrants, and spy on New Zealanders,” he says.

Wood says he believes the campaign is the first time that political activism has been crowd-funded in New Zealand.

In an engrossing interview on Campbell Live, Prime Minister John Key insisted that the GCSB bill had not been rushed, and said Kiiwis cared more about snapper than spying. 

Last night Key issued a written statement to The New Zealand Herald to say that GCSB warrants will be tightly controlled. 

Wood says statements like that could be legislated.

“You have to take a politician at his word, and you especially have to take a Prime Minister at his word,” says Wood.

“But why not stop the process, go back, open it up again for the select committee and put that in the legislation?”

Wood agrees with Key that most New Zealanders do not know much about the bill.

“Our campaign is not to educate people about the bill itself, it’s simply pointing out that there’s this lack of understanding about what it is. And that’s why we should slow it down.” 

The GCSB bill would allow a New Zealand spy agency, called the Government Communications Security Bureau, to collect information on New Zealand permanent residents and citizens. Previously the agency had not been allowed to do so.