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International reaction to our spying

Written By: - Date published: 8:37 am, March 28th, 2015 - 77 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, accountability, International, Spying - Tags: , , , ,

How are other nations going to react to our spying on them? Key’s response when the question arose in Korea was very typical of him – bullshit and bluster:

Mr Key says the Koreans simply do not care, “because they wouldn’t give a monkey’s and they probably wouldn’t believe it”.

Korea may or may not care, they have kept their cards to themselves. But Brazil cares:

NZ ambassador hauled before Brazilian foreign minister

New Zealand’s ambassador to Brazil, Caroline Bilkey, has been called upon to explain leaked documents showing New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) spied on rival candidates for the top job at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

And Fiji cares:

Fiji to take action against phone tapping

This comes in the wake of allegations made against the New Zealand government of listening in on Fiji’s military, police and government calls made on a particular network.

Mr Natuva says the government would not be writing to New Zealand on allegations about it spying on Fiji.

Latin America cares:

WTO spy revelations blow to NZ’s image

Repercussions likely in Latin America where New Zealand is attempting to build new trading relationships

The notion that New Zealand – a member of the “Anglo-Saxon” camp – had employed the US secret service (this is how it is being written up in San Paulo) to try and foil the Latin American emerging countries bloc from achieving its rightful elevation in geo-trade relationships will take a while to settle.

Whether they say so or not, it seems likely that other nations will care as well – to suggest otherwise is breathtaking arrogance. What will be the long term cost?

77 comments on “International reaction to our spying”

  1. Tracey 1

    But…but… BUUUUUUUUUUUT look!

    Blackcaps in the word cup final

  2. felix 2

    The reality is, at the end of the day, my statement that other countries don’t care about us spying on them needs to be understood in its full context, which is that what I akshully meant was that white people don’t care.

  3. mickysavage 3

    The Brazilian response was well up there in terms of showing diplomatic displeasure. To summons the diplomat for a please explain session AND to put out a press release shows how peeved off they are.

    And the Government’s only excuse (repeated in the Herald) is that the spying is legal. They should have a read of the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations before passing judgment. I am no expert but article 40.3 may apply. It requires third party states to accord to official correspondence and other official communications in transit the same freedom and protection as is accorded by the receiving State. So anything sent to a Brazilian embassy in, for instance, the United Kingdom should not be spied on.

    http://www.corpsdiplomatique.cd/VIENNA_CONVENTION_1961_ON_DIPLOMATIC_RELATIONS.pdf

    • Paul 3.1

      Maybe Key’s solution is for us to join America as the 51st state.
      Unbelievably dumb foreign policy.
      No wonder the civil servants are so disaffected.

    • Tracey 3.2

      in the corporate world you are at war with everyone. everyone is your enemy. your friends are enemies that havent shafted you yet. spying in the corporate world is R and D. Despite your dislike for government regs you love that they will be your anti virus and competition eliminator for you.

      This is why you need a benign dictatorship. cos those idiots with votes dont even recognise we are at war.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.3

      And the Government’s only excuse (repeated in the Herald) is that the spying is legal.

      Pretty sure that we would find that spying on those countries is not legal in those countries.

      As an example the Israeli attempts to get NZ passports. It’s illegal in NZ but obviously legal in Israel.

    • Macro 3.4

      I made this comment on another thread – but it is equally pertinent here:

      Objectives of the GCSB

      Objective of Bureau

      The objective of the Bureau, in performing its functions, is to contribute to

      (a) the national security of New Zealand; and

      (b) the international relations and well-being of New Zealand; and

      (c) the economic well-being of New Zealand.

      http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2003/0009/latest/DLM187828.html?search=ta_act_G_ac%40ainf%40anif_an%40bn%40rn_200_a&p=1

      Yep! Seems like the GCSB have done amazingly well at contributing to the international relations of NZ. Well done them.

    • Murray Rawshark 3.5

      My lay opinion is that it’s totally illegal. Brazil will be filthy about this, and just when a few people had done some good work in bettering relations with them. I can imagine the Polícia Federal selecting a few Kiwi tourists for a bit of a going over at airports as well. They have a unique manner of expressing diplomatic displeasure.

      The argument that our regime made is that it’s legal because foreigners aren’t Kiwis. Our country is a joke appendage of the US and A. Bugger that.

  4. vto 4

    John Key’s government is clearly a cavalier and loose unit running amok with decades of NZ hard-earned reputation and action.

    Poor. Very poor.

  5. The Chairman 5

    Can anybody point me to where the Koreans have actually been asked for comment?

    • Sable 5.1

      Do they need to be?

      • The Chairman 5.1.1

        @ Sable

        Of course they do.

        Key doesn’t officially speak for South Korea .

        The allegations were they were spied upon, therefore comment from them should have been sought.

        • emergency mike 5.1.1.1

          SK kisses US butt harder than 100 John Keys. They are a country where democracy is just a few decades old – their media makes ours look very good. “Today the government said this, the government said that…” The chances of them kicking up any kind of stink about a US five eyes partner operation are low. When Key says the Krns don’t care he means that the Krn public will never know, and the Krn government doesn’t care – they are corrupt and self-serving and the FT deal will somehow benefit them and their rich mates directly. I.e. these are John ‘deals over dinner’ Key’s kind of people.

    • Tracey 5.2

      no. despite being in their country our press corp couldnt bring themselves to ask. i think they would have to leave the comfort of the 5 star hotel.

      • Macro 5.2.1

        And the answer might not have been one that would have supported “dear leader”.. so best not to ask.

  6. Sable 6

    Given China plans to spend millions in Latin America in the coming years in light of amoungst other things its mineral resources Keys behaviour amounts to yet another example of economic suicide for NZ.

    The US is defunct. Its 18 trillion in debt projected to blow out to 25 trillion in the next five years. Its time we stopped being the US’s puppet/stooge and stood up for our own people before we are dragged down to their level.

    • Paul 6.1

      Spying on China, Vietnam and other South East Asian countries for the Americans when we rely on selling dairy products to their countries.
      Now that’s a plan, Mr Key!

      • Sable 6.1.1

        Yes. Take the most vibrant country with the most prosperous economy in the world and poke it with a stick. Keys is an utter plonker.

        • Paul 6.1.1.1

          Or worse…
          The definition of treason.

          trea·son (trē′zən)
          n.
          1. The betrayal of allegiance toward one’s own country, especially by committing hostile acts against it or aiding its enemies in committing such acts.
          2. The betrayal of someone’s trust or confidence.

          • saveNZ 6.1.1.1.1

            @Paul

            In my view John Key and those who have aided him are guilty of treason. He has done nothing for the long term interests of NZ citizens and us as a country. He has instead gambled and speculated our assets and sovereignty away for games of golf, and being part of an ‘in’ group and future job prospects and wealth.

            Soon he will be in his new cushy job probably related to his current job of chairing the The International Democrat Union (IDU) is a conservative international alliance of political parties. Headquartered in Oslo, Norway.

            The IDU provides a forum in which political parties holding similar beliefs can come together and exchange views on matters of policy and organisational interest. From this, they act cooperatively, establish contacts, and present a unified voice toward the promotion of centre-right policies around the globe.

            My view is that John Key is more interested in furthering the centre right interests of International Democrat Union than actually do anything for NZ citizens.

        • tc 6.1.1.2

          He’s not a plonker, he’s a puppet of US interests with the Machiavellian skills and deviant behaviour perfected in merchant banking to a fine art.

          Underestimate him at your peril the force is strong in that one.

          • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1.2.1

            +1111

            Precisely. Key knows exactly what he’s doing and the damage and poverty that it will cause NZ but he’ll get another few million out of it so he just doesn’t care.

      • Chooky 6.1.2

        +100

      • Macro 6.1.3

        But – but – but… Key was not responsible for the GCSB! His office is – or was.

        No Key had nothing to do with any spying. EVER!

        He knows nothing about it. And if he ever did – he can’t remember.

  7. Pasupial 7

    That Fiji quote accuses the; “New Zealand government of listening in on Fiji’s military, police and government calls made on a particular network”. It’d be good to know what network, though my guess would be:

    Vodafone, one of the world’s largest mobile phone groups, has revealed the existence of secret wires that allow government agencies to listen to all conversations on its networks, saying they are widely used in some of the 29 countries in which it operates in Europe and beyond…

    The company said wires had been connected directly to its network and those of other telecoms groups, allowing agencies to listen to or record live conversations and, in certain cases, track the whereabouts of a customer…

    In about six of the countries in which Vodafone operates, the law either obliges telecoms operators to install direct access pipes, or allows governments to do so…

    Governments count warrants in different ways and New Zealand, for example, excludes those concerning national security.

    http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/jun/06/vodafone-reveals-secret-wires-allowing-state-surveillance

  8. Olwyn 8

    This might be a weird or naive question, but are we paid to do this spying? I ask because it looks comparable to a bar that gets pokies in. The pokies provide a fixed income that covers a percentage of the costs, protecting the bar owner to some extent from the variability of food and drink sales. I wonder if our spying follows a similar pattern. If so, we are committing offences against other countries in order to pay our bills.

    • saveNZ 8.1

      @Olwyn

      My impression is that the NZ taxpayers pay for the spying, but the information goes directly offshore to the US. It is processed and stored in places unknown.

      So not only do NZ taxpayers pay for it, we actually don’t even do if for ourselves but for the club. My understanding is that the NZ GCSB then has to request it back so NZ does not have any control over the information that the NZ taxpayers pay to collect.

      If you have some country like NZ doing your bidding and you just have to have a few rounds of golf with the PM, and then set him up in some sort of cushy job later via connections and ‘help’ him get re elected to keep the gravy train rolling, why wouldn’t you?

      Not ethical in my view or a good way for the NZ citizens who are being told they can’t afford social spending but can afford to enrich and dubiously spy on individuals and neighbours.

      Before the Internet, they used to have the Stasi who did a similar thing.

      Is this Kiwi values?

  9. The government cannot say that it was not warned. Here is a little blast from the past: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11165857

      • Ad 9.1.1

        I agree with your points – sorry should have read them earlier.

        But I don’t think you are arguing against state-sponsored spying for economic defense purposes.

        I think you are more arguing against clumsy spying for economic defense purposes. It’s quite defensible, so long as you don’t get caught. That’s the only problem here.

        • I think that threats to economic security are worth including among the intelligence community’s concerns (for example, beyond what Bill mentioned below at 12.2.1 as a defense against physical threats to critical infrastructure, to include spying in defense of NZ corporate secrets against outside cyber attack, against corporate sabotage or in defense of trade negotiation strategies that are being spied on by foreign governments). But I draw the line on things such as spying on rival candidates of a Kiwi for an international economic organisation position or spying on allies or trade partners just to secure economic advantage. Of course it is done by many other nations as well, but few of them proclaim so loudly about having an independent and autonomous foreign policy or acting as honest brokers in international affairs. And if only some countries are spying in pursuit of trade advantage, then that is not really allowing market forces to prevail is it?

          The focus of the two articles that I linked to is that what is done is done and NZ better have prepared contingency plans for the inevitable backlash that is coming its way. We have no seen the end of it by a far stretch.

          Via the likes of Glenn Greenwald and Nicky Hager, Mr. Snowden has opened a window of opportunity for the NZ public and political class to debate the nature and intent of NZ’s role in Western espionage circles. With a parliamentary review coming up, perhaps this is the time for a full reconsideration of the how and why of NZ’s spying with an eye towards redrawing the terms and conditions governing it.

          And then there is the issue of domestic surveillance…

    • r0b 9.2

      Prescient – full marks.

  10. ianmac 10

    Surprised?
    “John Roughan: Spying on WTO justified by economic ambitions……
    Keeping tabs on candidates for director general job the best way to protect New Zealand, and the world’s trade interests….
    The revelation that New Zealand has used its external intelligence agency to tap the communications of candidates for the top job at the World Trade Organisation posed the question: is this a proper use of spies? The answer, I think, is hell yeah.”
    What happened to our mana ?

  11. greywarshark 11

    I like that term for Key’s approach Anthony – bullshit and bluster. Neat, precise, says it all.

  12. Ad 12

    The question a future government will have to commit to, is the purposes of the relevant Acts that enable collection for this purpose in the first place.

    In this case, the purpose for protecting the “economic interests” of New Zealand have proven a gate big enough for a semi truck-and-triler unit. This is where it turns.

    A future government must commit to reviewing not just the operations of the intelligence agencies, but the purposes for which they are set up to spy in the first place: the law itself.

    They need to be cut off at this primary source by deleting the “economic interests” clause in its purpose, because it is no longer possible to trust them to reform on simply an operational basis.

    If a progressive government is not prepared to do that, then they have implicitly opened up a whole ‘economic nationalism’ argument for the continued use of this legal purpose that goes fairly fast down the French route of explicit ties between the military system, the innovation system, and state entities. Not sure we are ready for that.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 12.1

      Neo-liberalism is against New Zealand’s economic interests. Why no GCSB attacks on the National Party?

    • Ad: Very good points and well worth debating when the parliamentary review of the intelligence community begins later this year. But the issue extends further. Not only does the scope of intelligence collection need to be reviewed, but the very definition of threats to national security also needs reappraisal. As things stand today in NZ threats to the “economic well-being” of the nation are defined as national security threats. That means that under the law someone sitting in a tree to protect it from commercial export logging can be classified as a threat to national security (if not a terrorist) and treated accordingly. Likewise for opponents of the TPPA, which is one reason why Jane Kelsey gets the run around on “national security grounds” every time she files an OIA requesting release of any files held on her by the intelligence services.

      • Bill 12.2.1

        I’m guessing – only guessing, mind – that the “economic well-being” was originally intended to refer to any disabling, eg – blowing up of – pipelines, electricity supply lines etc, and that the term has suffered from ‘interpretation creep’ so that it no longer merely refers to threats to ‘economic well-being’ occasioned by the knobbling of basic infrastructure?

        • Paul G. Buchanan 12.2.1.1

          That is a generous interpretation that could well be correct. However, as far as I can tell the broad definition of national security and the intelligence agencies’ scope of responsibilities (as per section 7 of the GCSB Act) were introduced post 9/11 (when both the SIS and GCSB Acts were amended and the new definition of threats to national security introduced). I am not sure if there was anything on “economic well-being” before that. Whatever the case, we need to debate the necessity and strict meaning of economic security as an intelligence priority.

          • Tracey 12.2.1.1.1

            Outside of critical infrastructure (what qualifies btw?) do you support taxpayers being the de facto anti virus/web security and R and D for corporations big enough to get in Government’s ears but essentially driven by the profit motive and a requirement to return money to select shareholders?

            • Paul G. Buchanan 12.2.1.1.1.1

              In short: No.

              But that is why public debate is needed. If the majority of the informed public accept the argument that the majority of of NZ’s GDP is derived from the export/import sector, and if it is accepted that the benefits accrued “trickle down” to derivative and tangental industries as well as to the general public through corporate taxation, then an argument might be made that it is in the national interest to offer intelligence support to the private firms involved in such a strategic part of the national economy.

              I have my doubts about such rationales but I can see them offered as a defense that is accepted by many. Ad at 12.2.2 offers some plausible others.

              • Tracey

                My problem is the profit of such companies. Some doesn’t come to NZ society via profits (e.g. Banks) and in addition making billions. I have no idea whether our data trawling is of advantage to banks, or not. Just using that as an example. Our critical infrastructure is well on the way to full privatisation, so again, the best way to preserve that infrastructure is to have it 100% n public hands and then any GCSB resource used to its benefit can be justified?

                Public debate is only of use if all cards are on the table. But under this government that is unlikely. While it will declassify at its convenience and leak at its convenience it blocks anything to query its preferred agenda, main public debate difficult.

                This government seems to live by the mantra made famous by Ms Gattung

                “the chief executive admitting to the company “not being straight up” with customers.

                “Think about pricing. What has every telco in the world done in the past? It’s used confusion as its chief marketing tool. And that’s fine,” said Gattung in a speech recorded on March 20.

                “You could argue that that’s how all of us keep calling prices up and get those revenues, high-margin businesses, keep them going for a lot longer than would have been the case.”

      • Ad 12.2.2

        And just to open that debate up just a fraction, if I were a government arguing to keep that “economic interest” threat, I would go like this:

        1. New Zealand will remain for the foreseeable future reliant on just a handful of domiciled bulk-commodity exporters. Our entire exporting and Balance of Payments situation is utterly vulnerable to their performance. That degree of national interest intersection means the state should seek their advantage with state interests, overt and covert.

        2. It’s not enough to depend on the rule of inter national law. We are so small that we have to play by the rules of international trade, and encourage more of those rules to proliferate. But it is precisely New Zealand’s vulnerability in trade to the rule of international law that means we need to have that Plan B. That Plan B is to know what our competitors are doing.

        3. China and India will keep New Zealand’s export economy afloat with their receipt of our export goods, for decades. They are both only making slow steps to obey common trade rules. We’ve made good steps with them, but our competitors are gaining traction where we once had advantage. We need to use the state’s instruments to sustain that advantage as long as possible, even knowing it is being eroded. Our competitors sure the hell don’t hold back when stuff-ups occur.

        Finally, Five Eyes is at base a thin and deeply unequal alliance for New Zealand, which will not protect our economic interests. We need to use our spy network, because for economic purposes, we are completely on our own, and we are a weak, small state and economic force in every way imaginable.

        • Tracey 12.2.2.1

          fair points but ultimately whatever our spy capability, our bigger trading partners will have the same or better…

          • Ad 12.2.2.1.1

            All the more reason to get into it.
            They brought sabers, so don’t jump into the fight with a stick.

            • Tracey 12.2.2.1.1.1

              you get the world you deserve Ad, in small ways and big. The problem with secret services is they are, well secret. the deal in lies and duplicity. Assessing their value therefore, is a quagmire.

              • Ad

                Sadly government is not a binary information world.

                The idea of a day/night open state v “deep state” is a myth. There is of course always a sliding scale – as there must be.

                New Zealand is already one of the most open and transparent democracies in the world. The intelligence gathering services that we have are well and truly small by any stretch of the imagination.

                And no, this is not the world we deserve. We should always expect more.

    • Macro 12.3

      The main problem with this whole sorry event is that it had nothing to do with advancing NZ economic interests but everything to do with advancing the career prospects of Tim Groser.

      That is simply CORRUPTION, and that is why the GCSB cannot be trusted.

  13. freedom 13

    Here is a ssdd piece that got buried soon after being published yesterday afternoon,
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11424168

    and a ssdd follow up this a.m.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11424409

  14. outofbed 14

    http://www.seek.co.nz/job/28395513?pos=17&type=standout
    Manager, Intelligence Coordination pm’s office

    • Tracey 14.1

      PM’s office doesnt have anything to do with Intelligence. Literally or figuratively, he abdicated responsibility, remember?

  15. emergency mike 15

    “What will be the long term cost?”

    For us? Our image is tarnished in certain countries, those stains don’t come off.

    For John Key? Not much. When his political time is up in NZ, he’ll just pack his bags and move on the the next corporate money making scheme.

  16. fisiani 16

    Nobody who matters cares. Just another petty post desperately trying to discredit Honest John yet again. When will the Left ever learn that repeating the same mistake over and over will only result in the same outcome.
    I will concede that once Honest John chooses to retire after perhaps six terms in office people may well have forgotten how truly awful is was during the Helengrad years and repeat the error of having a Labour government. When Chris Bishop becomes leader in 2025 the Left may have a chance.
    Who then will remember this storm in a D Cup?

  17. dave 17

    brazil is a huge market in a time when our exports are falling this town clown wreaks relations the Americans lost multi billion dollar fighter deal because of spying John key is a stupid ass he is wreaking this economy.

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    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand to send further firefighter support to Australia
    The New Zealand Government is sending a further 22 firefighters to help fight the Australian fires. “The devastation caused by these fires is taking a substantial toll on our Australian neighbours and we will continue to do what we can to assist as they deal with this extremely dynamic, dangerous ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Reducing the cost of education
    Twenty-two more schools have opted into the Government’s policy of providing $150 per child to schools who don’t ask parents for donations– bringing the total number of schools in the policy to 1,585. The Ministry of Education has accepted late opt ins past the November 14 deadline from schools that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Road deaths lower in 2019, but still more work to do
    “As we enter the new decade, my thoughts are with the families, friends and communities of the 353 people who lost their lives in road crashes last year. While the number of deaths is lower than in 2018 (377), this is still a staggering loss of life,” Duty Minister Iain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago