Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Want to make a submission on the video surveillance bill?

It's easy. Takes about 5 minutes.

First, go here: Parliamentary Submission Form.

Then explain your submission. It can be dead simple - just "I oppose the Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill, and request that it not be passed in its present form." You can find some good discussions about it here: Andrew Geddis.

No Right Turn's submission is here: Submission.

Here's mine:



I oppose the Video Camera Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill, and request that it not be passed in its present form. 
The retrospective component of the Bill appears to contradict two principles inherent in the rule of law: 
(1) that there will be certainty in how a law is applied
(2) that laws will not be changed in order to benefit those who are in a position change the laws 
These two principles can certainly be said to be in effect in the numerous cases said to be affected by the Supreme Court's recent ruling. The issues surrounding warrantless surveillances conducted due to a perceived urgency or danger have been identified since 2007, and are well known to the Police (see Hodgkinson v R [2010] NZCA 457, where the Crown conceded that a search warrant does not lawfully authorise the trespassory installation of a camera). 
Prosecutions affected by the Supreme Court's recent ruling have proceeded with the understanding that if the alleged illegal activity is serious enough, then illegally-obtained surveillance footage is admissible. This has provided both 'certainty' and an appropriate balance on warrantless surveillance conducted by the police. 
To change this using the proposed Bill removes a valuable check on police power. 
Given this, I see no need to pass the Video Surveillance (Temporary Measures) Bill in its present form, and recommend that the Search and Surveillance Bill is passed in the next term of government. 
In the meantime, police prosecutions involving warrantless surveillance should be allowed to stand or fall based on the particular merits of each case.

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