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Microsoft raises concerns about spy laws

Published: 7:09PM Wednesday July 31, 2013 Source: ONE News

Software giant Microsoft has raised concerns about the Government's proposed new surveillance laws at a select committee hearing today.

The Law and Order select committee is hearing submissions on the planned changes to the Telecommunications Interception Capability and Security (TICS) Bill.

The TICS Bill is companion legislation to the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) Bill, which if passed, will allow certain information to be provided to the New Zealand Police, Defence Force and the Security Intelligence Service.

The TICS Bill would oblige telecommunications firms to provide assistance to the GCSB in intercepting and decrypting communications.

It would also require providers like Chorus to consult the GCSB when designing and running networks, to protect the country from cyber-attacks.

Microsoft Corporate Affairs manager Waldo Kuipers said told the hearing that the law change may open up people doing online shopping, gaming, banking and other services like Skype to the surveillance of the spy agency.

"The proposed law will include to powers to extend telecommunications interception capability obligations to every provider of any good or service that enables or facilitates virtually any conveyance of any information from one device to another," said Mr Kuipers.

"I'll just pause there for a second, that's extremely broad. And I'm not making it up," he said.

"That's a dramatic change to the law and it is far from clear why this is necessary."

Mr Kuipers also argued that the law change being proposed may keep new innovative services out of New Zealand because engineering them to meet the Government' requirements would not be cost effective.

Internet NZ's Susan Chalmers also told the hearing that she had concerns about the legislation.

"The Bills must be considered together because their combination will produce and considerable and negative impact on the privacy of internet users," she said.

However, Communications and IT Minister Amy Adams said that what will be able to be intercepted under the new legislation is the same as what has been in place since 2004.

"I think you'll find that any minister exercising those sorts of powers will be subject to intense scrutiny, very clear guidelines and controls as is appropriate," she added.

ONE News Political Reporter Michael Parkin said that nobody at today's hearing disputed the need for law enforcement agencies to access communication services.

The committee is due to issue its report on the bill by September 20.

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