GCSB welcomes report on warrants

The Director-General of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), Andrew Hampton, has welcomed the release of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security’s report on warrants issued under the Intelligence and Security Act 2017. 

“The GCSB has an important role gathering intelligence that helps keep New Zealanders safe, informs strategic decisions by the New Zealand Government and contributes to a stable and secure region,” Mr Hampton said.

The Inspector-General has recently certified that the GCSB has legally compliant systems and processes. This follows the release of the report about GCSB’s intelligence activity in the South Pacific earlier this year. This report found GCSB conducted itself appropriately and did not deliberately target the communications of any of the complainants.

“Both the GCSB and the Inspector-General are still working to interpret, apply and implement the Intelligence and Security Act,” said Mr Hampton. “Interpreting and applying any new piece of legislation is a complex process that must be carefully thought through.”

“We have made a number of changes in response to issues the Inspector-General has raised, which have improved our warrant applications,” Mr Hampton said.

The GCSB has policies and processes to ensure all activity is appropriate, proportionate and legal. This includes analysis on the type of warrant required (see notes below), the breadth and coverage of warrants as well as what activity can be carried out under a warrant.

There is an important area of legal interpretation under the Security and Intelligence Act around I what circumstances a ‘Type 1’ or ‘Type 2” warrant is required. On this issue the Inspector-General and the GCSB hold different interpretations of the law.

“As the Inspector-General states in her report, the GCSB’s reasoning is carefully thought through and articulated,” said Mr Hampton. 

“Like all Government Departments, where there is a lack of clarity around the law, we rely on Crown Law for a definitive view,” Mr Hampton said. “We have sought advice from Crown Law on this issue and will share it with the Inspector-General once it is ready.”

“As the report notes, fully implementing the Intelligence and Security Act and developing the supporting policies, procedures, training and legal interpretations has been a significant effort,” he said.

“This work has had an impact on how quickly we have responded to the Inspector-General’s queries, but is now largely complete,” Mr Hampton said.

A copy of the report titled: Warrants issued under the Intelligence and Security Act is available on the Inspector-General’s website here.

Media contact: media@nzic.govt.nz / 04 819 7104



Notes for reporters

To carry out activities for the purpose of collecting information about New Zealanders a Type 1 Warrant is required. Type 1 Warrants are issued by the Minister Responsible for the GCSB and a Commissioner of Intelligence Warrants (a retired High Court Judge).

Type 2 warrants are sought when type 1 warrants are not required, for example, activities carried out for the purpose of collecting information about a foreigner. Type 2 warrants are issued by the Minister responsible for the GCSB alone.

The Inspector-General reviews all warrants.

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