Dunne gives government the GCSB vote it needs - but doesn't satisfy critics

Dunne gives government the GCSB vote it needs - but doesn't satisfy critics
Nationwide protests about the contrversial GCSB bill will go ahead this week, even as the goverment welcomes a change of mind by United Future MP Peter Dunne

John Key yesterday welcomed the news that Peter Dunne has promised him the vote he needs to pass the controversial GCSB legislation – but it's far from the end of the controversy over the bill.

The changes agreed between Dunne and the government increase the reporting requirements on the agency and provide for a review of intelligence agencies in 2015 – Opposition parties have been calling for such a review before any new legislation is passed – and periodically thereafter.

But the bill will still allow the GCSB to gather metadata – information about New Zealanders' communications – without a formal warrant. The warrants system itself remains politicised, and the warrants will be remarkably broad in scope. Entire "classes of persons" can be subjected to surveillance under a single warrant. Opponents fear that this will inevitably lead to commonplace mass surveillance.

Public protests will be staged on Saturday afternoon in Auckland, Hamilton, Napier, Wellington, Nelson, Christchurch and Dunedin. There will also be a public meeting at Auckland's Mt Albert War Memorial Hall on Thursday evening. The speakers will be Dame Anne Salmond, Dr Rodney Harrison, QC (who presented the Law Society submission on the bill), TechLiberty's Thomas Beagle, and Kim Dotcom.

More diffuse opposition is coming from the geek community. The bill was a hot topic at this month's Internet NZ HetHui conference. The Adopt an MP website, which emerged from the conference as a way to keep MPs informed on technology topics, is already being used to communicate on the bill.

Dunne's good run on social media – where he sometimes demonstrates an able wit – may well be over, however. Since he announced his support for the bill yesterday, he's been attracting some industrial-grade scorn for "selling out". He might have been better off supporting the bill from the outset.

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