You may recall that it came out last year that the New Zealand equivalent of the NSA, the GCSB, illegally spied on Kim Dotcom (oh, and dozens of others), possibly with the help of the NSA, despite not being allowed to spy on those in New Zealand.
An investigation by the police has agreed that the GCSB clearly broke the law… but the police have said that they don’t plan to prosecute the spy agency. Because, you know, that might hold them accountable. Now, at least, the GCSB knows that it can abuse the law at will with no punishment.
Instead, it appears that the excuse being used by the police is the same one we’ve been hearing from NSA defenders: because these abuses weren’t intentional, they can be ignored:
Today, Detective Superintendent Peter Read told a media conference that in spite of the GCSB committing one breach under the provisions of the Crimes Act, no criminal “intent” by the GCSB could be established.
I’m not sure that actually makes sense. Yes, when it comes to criminal activity, intent can be important in determining if it’s actually criminal, but there’s little doubt that the GCSB intentionally spied on Dotcom. It wouldn’t have taken very much at all to recognize that Dotcom was a resident of New Zealand who GCSB is forbidden from surveilling. So it seems like the intent was pretty clear.