Public bigger spy threat than GCSB

A lot has been said about the risks to the New Zealand public from spying by Government agencies the SIS and the GCSB, with scant evidence of there being any actual risk to most people.

In her latest Herald column Kerry McIvor makes an interesting point, suggesting that  public ‘spies’ are a bigger risk than the GCSB – Forget GCSB, public are the spies.

She refers to the surveillance, photographing and audio recording of Aaron Smith’s toilet liaison by a couple of of ordinary people (we are led to believe, unless the SIS has a Public Morals division that we don’t know about).

Which reinforces my opinion that it’s not the Government and the GCSB we have to worry about spying on us.

Its our fellow citizens and their smartphones. Nobody is safe, as Smith discovered.

I can only imagine the incredulity from the All Blacks team management when they heard of the incident: “He’s done what?!” “He did it where?!” “They recorded it?!”

How Smith thought he could get away with a liaison in a public toilet, at an airport – while people were queued outside the door, for heaven’s sake – is beyond me. That level of idiocy is mind-boggling.

But the woman in the loo wasn’t coerced. She was a willing participant.

That’s an assumption only that’s been made. We have very little evidence provided to us (fortunately).

What we have is the court of public opinion, or rather the court of media sensationalising, driven by scant evidence given to media by a couple of public spies.

This has been just about as bad as the office sex recording in Christchurch where a couple weren’t as private as they thought but a public spy recorded them and then they were harassed to an extreme level by media.

How many innocent people have had their lives trashed by the SIS or the GCSB?

Perhaps it’s not ‘big brother’ we should be worrying about (ok, we should still worry about that a bit) but rather ‘member of public with recording device’ plus ‘media intent on sensation and clicks’ may be our biggest risk.

How long will it be until a member of the public uses a drone to record something that is then used to trash a few people’s lives?

But the biggest spy risk is probably smart phones with dumb users and dumber media.

Toilet journalism

There have been a number of journalists involved in the gross (more meanings than one) overdoing of the Aaron Smith story.

Amongst the worse examples were the stream of clickbait articles at the Herald, Stuff apparently finding an aunt of Smith’s and asking her what she thought (apparently she didn’t know he was in a relationship), and 1 News scooping the poop with footage from inside the bog.

On that last stoop:

There will be a plaque in that Christchurch airport toilet. “This is where grown-up New Zealand journalism finally died.”

That was two days ago, journalism has been rolling in it’s grave since.

Yesterday the Herald decided to stuff up some more lives by pursuing the woman involved (the one in the toilet, not the snooping one who must be worried the hacks might turn on her).

An entire story about how a woman wanted the media to leave her alone. , do you not see the problem with that?

Someone else did see the problem:


Toilet journalism sums it up well.

I can count 24 articles about or referring to Smith at the herald on Thursday.

On Friday I can count thirteen articles! Some of these are about the All Blacks but refer the the Smith story in them, but most are focussing on the story that wouldn’t flush.

So far today NZ Herald has five articles on or mentioning Aaron Smith.

I guess journalists churning out an endless diarrhoea of stories are ‘just doing their job’ but from what I’ve seen many journalists who have escaped the toilet assignments are despairing at what their medium has become.