Kim Dotcom traded barbs with a New Zealand parliamentary committee over a proposal to increase the government’s spying powers.
In a fiery statement before a New Zealand parliamentary committee, Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom warned that New Zealand was following the United States into the ‘“dark ages” of spying.
“We should avoid blindly following the US into the dark ages of spying,” Dotcom said before the committee. “In the end, the GCSB is just a subsidiary of the National Security Authority and the US government calls the shots.”
“Spying powers not only erode the right to privacy and freedom of expression, it also has a negative impact on innovation, economic growth and business,” he said.
Dotcom was before the parliamentary committee testifying on a bill that would broaden the scope and powers of New Zealand’s signals intelligence agency, the Government Communications Services Bureau, to allow it to intercept the communications of permanent residents of New Zealand. Currently, GCSB is prohibited from listening to the communications of New Zealand citizens and permanent residents.
This proposed bill hits home particularly hard for German-born Dotcom, a New Zealand permanent resident, as a government enquiry found last year that GCSB was spying on Dotcom at the behest of US authorities months before New Zealand police raided his home under and arrested him over allegations of criminal copyright infringement. The revelation that GCSB was illegally spying on Dotcom earned him an apology from New Zealand’s Prime Minister, John Key.
Dotcom said that the push to expand GCSB’s powers was “poorly timed considering the scandalous leaks concerning US mass surveillance of the world’s population, including US allies”.
He also criticized the “Five Eyes” intelligence sharing agreement between the United States and her closest allies, saying it essentially “hacks” laws prohibiting domestic surveillance in the respective countries.
“They are hacking the law,” Dotcom said before the committee. “The NSA can spy on New Zealanders. New Zealanders can spy on Americans. The British can spy on Canadians and so forth, and they give each other access to data about their own citizens.”
An extradition hearing for Dotcom to the United States is set for April 2014.
While Dotcom is a man known for his hyperbole, his case has shown how entrenched the copyright lobby is within western governments and how they may bend or outright break the law to protect these interests.
Everyone has forgotten the repository of pirated materials that Megaupload once was, simply because Dotcom has come out of the affair on top by exposing two governments that have an over-zealous, law breaking, adoration of protecting big content’s copyright.