John Key’s GCSB/ AntiVirus Analogy Flawed and Misleading​



The Pirate Party of NZ is surprised to hear about Prime Minister John Key’s plan to redesign the Government Computer Security Bureau (GCSB) along the lines of a popular commercial AntiVirus, as mentioned in his interview on Cambell Live. This AntiVirus approach differs in a number of ways from that laid out in the surveillance Bills currently before Parliament.
“Firstly, a computer user can choose between a range of AntiVirus packages,” says party Communications Manager Danyl Strype, “more importantly, they can choose whether or not to use an AntiVirus at all. Does John Key mean that people will be able to opt-out of being spied on, and that if they opt-in, they can be spied upon by the surveillance agency of their choice? Somehow I doubt it.”

The particular AntiVirus service mentioned by Mr Key also charges a regular fee to users who have it installed on their computer. “Is Mr Key pointing out that people could be billed by spy agencies for the service of being spied on, on behalf of the state and its foreign intelligence allies?” asks Strype, “It’s certainly true that millions of dollars of public money are currently being spent on the GCSB, and if the Bills before Parliament are passed, the public will be paying them to spy on us.”

Strype concedes that the Prime Minister’s comparison does hold up on one point. “Probably the greatest similarity between AntiVirus software and the GCSB is that neither are necessary. A handful of self-interested parties have convinced people that they should continue to use Microsoft Windows, and pay for commercial AntiVirus services, despite the fact that viruses are not an issue for operating systems based on ‘free code’ software like GNU/Linux. Similarly, successive governments have convinced us we need an increasingly elaborate range of spy agencies, with increasingly intrusive search and surveillance powers, even though the more basic democratic rights we give up for ‘security’ reasons, the less security we seem to have.”

Pirate Party members will be supporting a number of public meetings around the country against the GCSB and TICS Bills, including one at 5pm tonight in the Octagon, Dunedin, and the Town Hall meeting in Auckland, Monday 19 August, 7pm.

The members of our Executive Council are available for comments or interviews, their contact details are available here:

About The Pirate Party of New Zealand

The Pirate Party of New Zealand is a political party which seeks to reduce the unfair monopolies perpetrated by the opressive copyright and patent system in New Zealand. It is our aim to improve individual privacy and civil rights as they apply in the modern digital age.




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