Government to change law for swift review of powers of spy agencies
The government will amend the law to propose a review of the powers of spy agencies longer than a year.
A first review of the Intelligence and Security Act, which governs how intelligence agencies operate and use their intrusive powers, was a key recommendation of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch Mosque Terrorist Attacks.
The law, as drafted, specified that a review of its provisions and agencies was to take place until September 2022.
On Monday, Andrew Little said the government would amend the law to allow the review to take place from July 1, 2021.
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Little, who is responsible for the government’s response to the royal commission, said the review “would examine current threats to national security and whether the legislation can be improved.”
“The families of the shuhada [martyrs, or victims of the terror attack] and the general public will have the opportunity to express their views on issues related to national security and issues raised by the Royal Commission on Legislation, ”Little said in a statement.
Any decided change to the law will go through the usual parliamentary process, he said.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will appoint two independent reviewers and define the terms of reference for the review.
In March, Little said the government was willing to propose revising espionage laws because there was to be a public conversation “about what we expect from our security and intelligence agencies, what powers do we have? are ready to tolerate. they have”.
He said intelligence agencies – the government’s Security Intelligence Service and Communications Security Bureau – had previously requested that he “work with them to consider returning to Parliament to expand powers.”
“I am convinced that they have the powers they need … I don’t have a particular view of these larger powers which, in my opinion, must be there. Others might have a different point of view, ”he said.
“Do they want the agency, for example, to explore everything on Trade Me? Do they want agencies to go through all New Zealanders’ Facebook accounts? “
The government will also hold a national counterterrorism hui in Christchurch in June.