The legislative framework for the NZIC is contained in four acts:

  1. The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS) Act 1996
  2. The Intelligence and Security Committee Act (ISC)1996
  3. The GCSB Amendment Act 2013
  4. The NZSIS Act 1969

The NZSIS Act has been subject to some changes over the years, most recently in 2014 as part of the Countering Terrorist Fighters Legislation Bill, and in 2011 prior to the Rugby World Cup, but neither the GCSB Act nor the two oversight acts have been substantially amended since their enactments.

NAB is not subject to any specific legislation, as it does not exercise any particular powers.

Why change is needed to the GCSB Act

New Zealand faces a changing security environment, in which threats are increasingly interconnected and national borders are less meaningful. GCSB needs to be able to address the security challenges posed by the increasing importance of cyberspace. 

The legal environment in which the GCSB Act is interpreted has developed since its enactment. The courts’ consideration of law enforcement cases has provided further guidance about how intrusive state powers should be set out by statute, and highlights areas where powers may no longer be effective given changes in technology.


On 27 August 2013, amendments were made to the GCSB Act and associated legislation. The legislative amendments came into effect on 27 September 2013.

The legislation now clearly states that the Bureau has three functions:

  1. Information assurance and cyber security
  2. Foreign intelligence gathering and analysis
  3. Supporting other agencies.

The GCSB is subject to all New Zealand law. The Act was amended to explicitly state that the GCSB acts in accordance with New Zealand law and all human rights standards recognised by New Zealand law, except to the extent that they are, in relation to national security, modified by an enactment .

Oversight of the GCSB's activities is established in the Intelligence and Security Committee Act 1996 and the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Act 1996. These associated Acts were amended at the same time as the GCSB legislation to enhance the oversight mechanisms.

The background to the amendments is outlined by the Prime Minister and then Minister responsible for the GCSB, Rt Hon John Key PM announces next steps in response to GCSB report

The summary of all submissions on the Bill and the Departmental response to the substantive issues is contained in the Departmental Report and the Regulatory Impact Statement looks at the consequences of implementing the legislation.