Written By: - Date published: 9:37 am, October 10th, 2013 - 21 comments
Categories: capitalism, copyright, democracy under attack, john key, national, Spying, telecommunications, us politics - Tags: asia-pacific, TPPA
An article in today’s UK Guardian provides an interesting overseas perspective on the role of Key’s government in the GCSB, Dotcom, surveillance saga. The author, Antony Loewenstein draws on his interviews with Nicky Hagar, Martyn Bradbury and others. He paints a picture of the NZ state as vassal to the US mega-power, under the influence of Hollywood corporates. Loewenstein summarises some of the main developments in the GCSB Dotcom saga, plus offers some analysis.
While Washington distracts itself with shutdown shenanigans and failed attempts to control the situation in the Middle East, president Obama’s “pivot to Asia” looks increasingly shaky. Beijing is quietly filling the gap, signing multi-billion dollar trade deals with Indonesia and calling for a regional infrastructure bank.
Meanwhile in recent years, New Zealand has been feeling some of the US’s attention, and conservative prime minister John Key is more than happy to shift his country’s traditional skepticism towards Washington into a much friendlier embrace. Canberra is watching approvingly. It’s almost impossible to recall a critical comment by leaders of either country towards global US surveillance. We are like obedient school children, scared that the bully won’t like us if we dare push back and argue harder for our own national interests.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), warmly backed by Australian prime minister Tony Abbott and New Zealand, is just the latest example of US client states allowing US multinationals far too much influence in their markets in a futile attempt to challenge ever-increasing Chinese business ties in Asia. German-born, New Zealand resident and internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom tweeted this week:
Intelligence matters usually remain top-secret, leading New Zealand journalist Nicky Hager tells me, but this case was different, blowing open the illegal spying on Dotcom. His lawyers scrutinised all the police warrants after the FBI-requested raid on his house.
The article quotes Hagar on the revelations resulting from the subsequent investigations:
“With Dotcom, GCSB helped the police by monitoring Dotcom’s e-mail. What this largely or entirely meant in practice was that the GCSB sent a request through to the NSA to do the monitoring for them and received the results back. This means that the NSA used either wide internet surveillance (essentially “Echelon for the Internet”) or else requests to the internet companies (Gmail etc) directly, ie the Prism type operations. It’s not clear which it was.
I spoke at a public meeting in Auckland’s town hall before the GCSB bill was passed. It was the biggest political meeting I can remember attending, with three levels of the large town hall completely full, and hundreds of people turned away. It’s been a big thing here, becoming one of those issues that is a lightning rod for general unhappiness with the government.”
“Journalist” Martyn Bradbury is quoted thus:
“the case against Dotcom is more about the US stamping their supremacy onto the Pacific by expressing US jurisdiction extends not just into New Zealand domestically, but also into cyberspace itself.”
The article concludes:
This brings us back to China and the US’s attempts to convince its Pacific friends to fear a belligerent and spying Beijing. The irony isn’t lost on the informed who realise Washington’s global spying network is far more pernicious and widespread than anything the Obama administration and corporate media tell us is coming from the Chinese.
Neither China nor the US are benign in the spying stakes. Both are guilty of aggressively pursuing their interests without informing their citizens of their rights and actions. Australia and New Zealand are weak players in an increasingly hostile battle between two super-powers, and many other nations in our region are being seduced by the soft power of Beijing (including Papua New Guinea, partly due to its vast resource wealth).
This is the sort of reporting that NZ’s MSM journalists rarely (if ever) give. It is chilling. It shows why we need to continue to campaign against NZ’s surveillance state legislation and for TPPA transparency.