New Zealand Apologizes for Illegal Domestic Spying

Meanwhile the United States continues to snoop on everyone and doesn’t even admit it.

By TREVOR TIMM | EFF | OCTOBER 9, 2012

Imagine this: A government, faced with public evidence that its foreign spy service was conducting domestic surveillance on its residents—instead of claiming the information is somehow secret and the people responsible are above the reach of the law—admits in public and in the courtroom that it violated basic rights.

That is exactly what happened last week in New Zealand in the controversial copyright infringement case surrounding Megaupload and its founder Kim Dotcom. At the same time in the US, the government is faced a very similar scenario: overwhelming evidence the National Security Agency (NSA) has illegally spied on Americans. However, not only has the government refused to admit any wrongdoing, it is actively trying to prevent courts from coming to any conclusions.

As EFF has previously reported, the case against Megaupload and Dotcom has been controversial from the start. Dotcom was arrested in New Zealand, while the U.S. government seized Megaupload’s property and executed search warrants on its leased servers based on claims of alleged copyright infringement the day after SOPA was declared dead by Congress. The military-style raid by the New Zealand police was criticized as over-excessive. And the loss of access to the servers has left many innocent users without access to their lawful data.

Then in June, the High Court in New Zealand ruled the warrants executed for the raid in New Zealand were invalid, making the resulting searches and seizures “illegal.” Now add that to the recent news that the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB)—New Zealand’s equivalent to the NSA—was illegally spying on Dotcom by monitoring all Internet traffic coming to and from his home.  (The GCSB is legally barred some spying on residents of New Zealand, and a cursory check of government records shown Dotcom has been an official resident since 2010.)

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U.S. Senate Extends Patriot Act Spying

Wired.com

The Senate voted late Tuesday to extend through May three controversial Patriot Act spy measures that were set to expire at month’s end.

The 86-12 vote came a day after the House voted to extend the same provisions to Dec. 8. The fate of both bills remained unclear late Tuesday.

The action in both chambers can best be described as a Groundhog Day for the Patriot Act.

The expiring provisions at issue were set to sunset in December 2009. Congress extended the deadline until the end of February 2010 in a bid to work out compromise legislation. When that failed, lawmakers punted for a year, declaring that those measures would expire at the end of this month unless new action is taken.

President Barack Obama has said he wants the measures extended, without change, through at least 2012. The act was hastily adopted after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

Here are the extended provisions at issue:

• The “roving wiretap” provision allows the FBI to obtain wiretaps from a secret intelligence court, known as the FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) court, without identifying the target or what method of communication is to be tapped.

• The “lone wolf” measure allows FISA court warrants for the electronic monitoring of a person for whatever reason — even without showing that the suspect is an agent of a foreign power or a terrorist. The government has said it has never invoked that provision, but the Obama administration said it wanted to retain the authority to do so.

• The “business records” provision allows FISA court warrants for any type of record, from banking to library to medical, without the government having to declare that the information sought is connected to a terrorism or espionage investigation.