New legislation to allow the Government Communications Security Bureau to spy on New Zealanders in certain situations has passed its first hurdle.
The bill had its first reading in parliament last night and passed through 61 votes to 59.
It will now go to the Intelligence and Security Committee for a shorter than usual period, because the Government says changes to the GCSB legislation are needed urgently.
The Bill will replace the current Telecommunications (Interception Capability) Act 2004.
There are two parts to the Bill; the first part relates to obligations for telecommunications companies, and is focused on modernising the existing interception capability.
It will also improve the existing administration and enforcement processes in order to lift compliance levels," Communications and Information Technology Minister Amy Adams said.
However Adams says the changes will not alter the authority of police or intelligence and security agencies to intercept telecommunications or reduce the checks and balances on how these agencies can access and use private communications information.
Those matters are dealt with under separate legislation, says Adams.
The second part of the Bill introduces a formal and transparent network security regime.
The proposed changes will mean network operators will be obliged to engage with the Government through the GCSB on network security, where it might affect New Zealand's national security and economic well-being.
"Updating the legislation will ensure New Zealand's telecommunications companies have a clearer understanding of how to meet their interception obligations while ensuring their network infrastructure does not pose a risk to New Zealand's national security or economic well-being, as we move to an increasingly online world.," Adams said.
The changes follow the Kim Dotcom debacle when it was revealed that the GCSB have illegally spied on internet mogul because authorities did not think he was a New Zealand resident.