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Mass Surveillance and Maori

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Mass Surveillance and Maori
Martyn Bradbury

News this week that the children caught up in the 2007 Urewera 'Terror' raids have been invited to Wellington to rebuild trust with the Police can not be separated from the mass surveillance state the raids has ended up enabling.

It was the illegal nature of the spying the Police originally used to try and justify a terrorism case against those involved in the Urewera arrests that gave birth to the new search and surveillance powers granted to the Police.

Much of the Crown's evidence against those arrested was based on information the Police had recorded and monitored illegally.

The Government's position was that this was a 'mistake' with no genuine attempt to pervert the course of justice and as such passed law that not only made those illegal tactics legal, it also wiped the Police clean from being prosecuted for the illegal spying.

The Crown had no other option than playing up the gun charges as the only leverage they had to justify an investigation that had cost up to $14million.

That the Police could end up being rewarded for a gross invasion of privacy and then have that fishing expedition made the norm makes the visit by children impacted by this type of police over reach seem disingenuous.

But it gets worse.

The mass surveillance law changes John Key has passed give the police the ability to use GCSB hardware to spy on every aspect of a persons online life.

From tracking cell phones, to social media and home computers, the immense powers handed over to our officials provide little protection for the privacy of the individual.

Maori radicalism was used as an excuse to expand the spying abilities of the State, and because of the definitions used that enable these powers are such a low threshold (3 people who know each other and working towards the same goals meets the trigger threshold for surveillance) virtually all of us at anytime can be inadvertently included in any such sweeps.

The children of the Urewera raids can re-bond with the Police in Wellington, but it will never close the all seeing eye those raids birthed.

That eye watches now, unblinking and ruthless.

Few of us have any reason to see that outcome as making any of us in Aotearoa safer.


Martyn Bradbury is a broadcaster and political commentator who is also editor of The Daily Blog, Aotearoa's largest left wing and progressive blog


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