New Zealand's Surveillance Controversy: The Impact of the GCSB Amendment Bill and the Snowden Revelations

Robert Patman, Laura Southgate

Research output: Unpublished contribution to conferenceUnpublished Conference Paper


In New Zealand, Edward Snowden’s revelations about the extraordinary scope of the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) surveillance capabilities and the facilitating role of the Five Eyes alliance converged with increasing public concerns about the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) Amendment and Related Legislation Bill in 2013. This generated an intense and sustained debate in the country about surveillance policy. It was a debate in which the Prime Minister John Key has featured prominently. A conceptual model developed by Michelle Hale Williams is outlined to help define, understand and measure the impact factor in New Zealand. While apparently unable to clearly refute Snowden’s claims concerning mass surveillance in New Zealand, John Key’s vigorous public interventions helped counter the short-term political and diplomatic fallout. However, the long-term impact of public concerns over the surveillance policies of the Key government may be much harder to predict in what is a small democracy, and the prospect of substantial political blowback cannot be ruled out.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Event2015 New Zealand Political Studies Association : Disrupting the Discipline - New Zealand, Palmerston North
Duration: 30 Nov 20152 Dec 2015


Conference2015 New Zealand Political Studies Association
Abbreviated titleNZPSA
CityPalmerston North


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