IITP chews telco Bill

"Passing this law with a razor-thin majority against the wishes of the industry and most New Zealanders is not a good way forward," says IITP CEO Paul Matthews

New Zealand’s Institute of IT Professionals (IITP) has joined Microsoft and Google in criticising the Telecommunications (Interception and Security) Bill.

IITP CEO Paul Matthews told Computerworld New Zealand today that it had reservations about the Bill sponsored by National MP Amy Adams, which if passed by Parliament may force any network to be open to scrutiny by the Government Communications Security Bureau.

"The Institute of IT Professionals supports and recognises the role that the Government Communications Security Bureau plays in national security. However, we also believe this role needs to be balanced,” he said.

"A number of IT industry parties voiced concern at the expanded role the GCSB will have under the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Bill during the law and order select committee hearings this week. These include concerns over the protection of privacy, the potential to stifle innovation, and possible conflicts with laws in the US and we share many of these concerns.

"Passing this law with a razor-thin majority against the wishes of the industry and most New Zealanders is not a good way forward. The government needs to consult more widely to ensure a greater industry consensus before this bill is passed into law. As New Zealand’s independent representative body of IT Professionals, we are very happy to participate in a broader consultation.”

The Bill says that any network must be ready for interception and that network providers must co-operate and have all upgrades approved by the Director of the GCSB.

“[Network providers must] encourage partnership between network operators and the government by—

  • “Emphasising that network operators and the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) are to work co-operatively and collaboratively on identifying and addressing network security risks.
  • “Obligating network operators to engage in good faith with the Director of the GCSB on the design, build, and operation of networks where those may pose a risk to New Zealand’s national security or economic well-being.
  • “Obligating network operators to notify the Director of the GCSB about proposed procurement decisions being made in relation to areas in the network of particular national security interest.”

“While this Bill is largely an update to the existing TICA law [Telecommunications (Interception Capability) Act 2004], there is one very large new section that gives the GCSB sweeping oversight and control powers over New Zealand’s telecommunications networks,” Thomas Beagle, spokesperson for Tech Liberty, which campaigns for civil rights in the digital world, said in an oral submission to the Law and Order Select Committee.

“The bill refers to [a] ‘partnership’ between industry and the GCSB, but it is also very clear that by partnership it means that the GCSB will be in control. This is obvious when you look at the language used in the procedures defined in section 3.

“Network providers must consult with the GCSB, they must not proceed without approval, the GCSB can accept or reject proposed alternatives, and, ultimately, the GCSB can get a Ministerial direction that forces the network provider to follow their orders.”

Oral submissions have now closed. The Law and Order Select Committee is expected to report on the Bill on 20th September 2013.

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Tags Telecommunications (Interception and Security) BillInstitute of IT Professionals (IITP)

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