Friday, September 30, 2011

A brief plug

For my brother's website, TrailHunger. It's basically a website that takes uploads from GPS watches of its members, then spits them out as routes for other people to use. Because it's getting 'real' info, it shows all the little side trails that may not get on official maps. Ed's really into trail running in the Vancouver area, so that's where most of the maps are, but it's configurable for anywhere, I think.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Illegal Search and Surveillance

The police have been doing a lot of it. More specifically, they were called on this by the Supreme Court, and now want a bill passed to declare everything that they've done legal, with no oversight, retrospectively.

But you can tell the Government what you think about it!

What I said:

1. I oppose the Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill and ask that it not be passed in its present form.
2. This bill is a kneejerk attempt to counteract a decision of the Supreme Court. As such, it is a challenge the entire legal system, in which Parliament creates laws and the courts enforce them. This is a dangerous precedent to create.
3. This bill is unnecessary. The NZ Police claim that it is needed to protect 40 current investigations of serious crimes in which they have acted illegally to obtain evidence - the Evidence Act already permits the admission of illegal evidence where the crime is sufficiently serious. Where the crime is not sufficiently serious, it is clear that the NZ Police's failure to obtain appropriate warrants is egregious.
4. The speed with which this bill has been presented is unnecessary. There has been a Search and Surveillance Bill being debated by Parliament for over a year; if it were truly urgent the Government would have brought it up the order paper as they have done for other bills. Issues of surveillance, particularly how to deal with changing technology, are significant and need to be properly examined before being passed into law.
5. This bill is retrospective and thus immoral. Acts that occurred in the past should not be declared either legal or illegal for the sake of convenience. As a country, we would condemn this behaviour in any other nation.
6. The court case which raised this issue, Hamed & Ors v R [2011] NZSC 101, found that the Police had knowingly broken the law while obtaining evidence - this bill attempts to reward them for their appalling behaviour. It will serve to encourage them in further abuses of power.
7. I note the NZ Police's past history of paid informants to report on legitimate and legal political protest, particularly the Rob Gilchrist case, where the informant sent prurient photographs of the protestors that Gilchrist was spying on to the Police. This is not an institution which has moral high ground - encouraging the NZ Police to break into people's house and leave hidden video cameras with no oversight is an invitation to more abuse.
8. This bill lacks any requirement to prove necessity. It encourages the Police to embark on 'fishing expeditions' to find evidence of a crime caused by someone simply because they hold unpopular opinions. I note that most of the human rights advances that New Zealand currently holds were brought about by people who held 'unpopular opinions.'
9. I respectfully suggest that this issue be shelved until after the General Election - whatever government is elected will need to live with the outcome, it is only right that they make the decision.
10. I do not wish to make an oral submission.

More info from No Right Turn here: