John Key planned our mass surveillance

Written By: - Date published: 8:07 am, September 15th, 2014 - 64 comments
Categories: Deep stuff, democracy under attack, john key, national, same old national - Tags: , ,

John Key gcsb

Anthony R0bins has already posted on this but the subject is that important it needs a few looks at it.

I am sure that all eyes will be on Kim Dotcom’s Auckland meeting tonight.

Glen Greenwald’s arrival in New Zealand and the disclosures he has already made have added extra spice to what has already been an out of control election campaign. If it gets any stranger it should be tested for the consumption of hallucinogens.

John Key has slipped into abusive mode. Calling Greenwald, a Pulitzer Prize winning reporter a “henchman” and implying that his opinions can be bought demeans the office of the Prime Minister of New Zealand. Unfortunately it reflects Key’s view of humanity.  Anyone thinking that scientific opinions can be bought and sold must have a terribly dark view of humanity.

John Key during the weekend came out swinging and said that although a “business case” had been prepared by the GCSB for the mass surveillance of New Zealanders he had, after quite some time, put a hold on it.  The phrase “business case” is interesting.  Putting a monetary value on the violation of our rights of privacy shows how dollar centric this Government is.

Andrea Vance has set out a helpful timeline.  In November 2011 two New Zealand corporations were subject to a cyber attack.  Rumours are that one of them was Fonterra and that the attacks originated from China.  The response of the Government was to contemplate the mass surveillance of New Zealanders.  But you have to wonder why.  As said by Danyl McLaughlan “[h]arvesting meta-data about phone calls or web traffic of New Zealand citizens does absolutely nothing to stop Chinese hackers targeting Fonterra or MFAT. It’s a bit like your local police officer saying ‘I think someone is trying to break into your house so I’m gonna drill peepholes in the walls of your bathroom and bedroom’.”  The phrase “never let a good crisis pass you by” springs to mind.

Key says that he put a stop to it.  But here is the jaw dropping feature about the work.  It was started in early 2012 and Key only told the GCSB to put a hold on it in March 2013.  According to his version it is clear he changed his mind presumably only after the controversies surrounding the GCSB came to light.

Key has promised to declassify and release GCSB documents that he says will back him up.  It makes you wonder why the documents were classified in the first place as well as why they should be declassified for political purposes.  And why at the time we were not told about this most intrusive of projects.

It may be that the documents will back Key up.  But I have always wondered about the 5 eyes network.  What is to stop the mass collection of data being analysed by an agency free of the legal restraints that existed at the time in New Zealand and then handing the results over to local agencies?

As I type this Guyon Espiner is asking Key these very questions.  And Key is sounding very evasive.  He does not think that it was in the public interest to let us know that the Government was considering our mass surveillance.  Let me repeat that, he does not think that it was in the public interest to let us know that the Government was considering our mass surveillance.

And how can you reconcile this with Key’s August 2013 statement that he would resign if the GCSB conducted mass surveillance.  Unless he was going to implement the proposed change and then resign you have to conclude that this is the most disingenuous of statements.

Key is hoping to bamboozle and befuddle his way through this.  He is relying on the use of arcane language and weirdly drafted law to get by and to pretend that everything is not what it seems and that it is just too confusing anyway.

Greenwald has responded by pointing out that plans were well advanced.  He has documents stating that phase 1 of the GCSB’s plans (accessing the Southern Cross cable) had been achieved and phase 2 (metadata probes) was under way.

It may be that Key is right and Greenwald is wrong.  But even on Key’s version the Government planned on our mass surveillance for twelve months and Key and the Cabinet knew about it and we were not told.

A final word Glenn Greenwald from his book “No place to hide”:

The U.S. government, in conspiracy with client states, chiefest among them the Five Eyes—the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand—have inflicted upon the world a system of secret, pervasive surveillance from which there is no refuge. They protect their domestic systems from the oversight of citizenry through classification and lies, and shield themselves from outrage in the event of leaks by overemphasizing limited protections they choose to grant the governed.…

Tonight should be very interesting.

64 comments on “John Key planned our mass surveillance”

  1. r0b 1

    Indeed – sorry about the overlap post (folks this blog is a very loosely organised collective!). Plenty here to write about, you have taken a much broader view…

  2. vto 2

    So according to the honesty morals of Key, it is ok to say nobody is being subjected to mass surveillance when you know that mass surveillance is being planned and implemented.

    Lie

    Agreed mickysavage, Key has no moral compass. He is all at sea with a shallow draining tide

  3. Dont worry. Be happy 3

    Yes Key came out swinging alright. Labelling Greenwald a “little henchman”. Anyone else think that the Prime Minister of this country was reaching for “fairy” “faggot” or “poofter” and had to settle for “little” and rely on the dog whistle?

    • Lanthanide 3.1

      No. The sorts of people who would hear this purported dog whistle are the sorts of people who are very unlikely to know anything about Glenn Greenwald in the first place, hence why Key is trying to suggest he’s in Dotcom’s pocket, when actually he’s an internationally renowned and respected journalist.

      Not sure why you’re bringing it up yourself, except as a dog whistle?

      • Tracey 3.1.1

        PLus 1

        Key got in first to besmirch Greenwald to those who do not know that he has won a Pultizer prize for Journalism, just as many dont know Hager is recognised internationally as an investigative journalist.

    • Tom Gould 3.2

      Dog whistle, dissembling, time-shifting, reconstructing, diversion, name-calling, every trick in the book. But that’s been his MO for 8 years now, and still the brain dead MSM chooks can’t keep up. Take a quick look at the front page banner headline of the Press today, the print edition: “Key: don’t believe them”. Fair, balanced and accurate? Yeah, right. The public only know what the media tell them, and they tell them that Key is trustworthy and honest, and should get another term. Saturday is just a formality.

  4. vto 4

    I find it astounding that when Key was asked whether we were being mass spied, and he was in the middle of planning and implementing mass spying, he said “no”.

    That is just outright deceit and dishonesty.

    Key is a disgrace.

  5. exit lane 5

    The issue of mass surveillance is huge. But there is a danger all the attention will focus on this one issue when in fact John Key’s credibility on the GCSB and fitness to be PM is under attack on multiple fronts. Greenwald is likely to demolish Key’s credibility on many other issues than just mass surveillance. Will the media be up to the task to call Key to account across all these issues.

    Some of these equally vital issues are examined here…
    http://goo.gl/afpzPL

    • mickysavage 5.1

      Thanks for the link. Dennis has done some good work in the area and I agree that there are a number of different issues that are important. It is the difficulty with the subject. There are huge forces trying to increase surveillance in many different areas.

  6. One Anonymous Bloke 6

    Key had better resign so the mass surveillance can really kick in. Those awful lefties destroyed the most popular Prime Minister in the history of the universe, of course they must be monitored and punished.

  7. weka 7

    From Vance’s timeline,

    “March 2013 – Key tells the GCSB to put its business case into mass surveillance on hold”

    Is Key using the term ‘on hold’? So presumably he intended it to restart at some point. Over the next five months after he puts it on hold, the country has a huge debate about the GCSB bill, which is passed and the National govt (because let’s not pretend this is just Key) decides to not mention this little detail?

    I also find it beyond credible that so much work would have gone into setting up the scheme and then it just be abandoned indefinitely.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1

      …all the while telling one another in private that all they needed to start it up was the new bill.

      I want to know where the physical hardware is connected to the Southern Cross cable, and by whom. Something for the police to attend to in the first hundred hours.

      • weka 7.1.1

        Does the bill make mass surveillance (of NZers) legal?

        In the Herald article where Key says he will resign, he also says the GCSB wouldn’t be doing mass surveillance because that would be illegal. Maybe that’s what he will present as his out.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1.1.1

          Here’s what the Law Society says about it.

          PS: the word Key used was “wholesale”.

        • Tracey 7.1.1.2

          Jane kelsey may have written something on it, am looking now.

          Bear in mind one of the “safety” mechanisms built in is that a warrant needs to be signed by the PM… John Key would never act against our interests…

          “Ryall went on to address questions around the interception of metadata, claiming “Metadata cannot be separate — there is no way for [the GCSB] to get metadata and not communications without a warrant. … They cannot access metadata without a warrant because it’s not separated from communication [in the definition in the bill].””

          “”This bill changes the GCSB from being a foreign intelligence agency to a mixed foreign and domestic intelligence agency. … It is inconsistent with the rights of freedom of expression and the freedom from unreasonable search and seizure.” Law Society

        • Tracey 7.1.1.3

          Weka

          I dont know if you read manning’s interview with Paul Buccahan back during the debat eon this

          “As proposed, the proposed amendments to the 2003 GCSB Act and 2004 TICS Act have these concerns at their core, but are over reaching in the scope and extent of the GCSB’s ability to spy domestically because they propose to engage in mass cyber trawling without specific cause and make compulsory before the fact that telecommunications firms provide backdoor access to their source and encryption codes, again without specific cause or threat. They also expand the extent of warrantless domestic espionage.

          Selwyn Manning.SELWYN MANNING: Do you believe the legislation is being driven by the interests of the United States of America, by New Zealand’s national security interests, or a mix of both?

          Paul-BuchananDR PAUL BUCHANAN: It is a mixture of both. There are legitimate reasons to tighten cyber security in New Zealand, but the legislation also brings the GCSB and TICS Acts closer in line with relevant US and UK signals intelligence legislation. The problem is that New Zealand’s threat environment is very different than that of the US or UK, so the alignment of legislation is an over-reach in the New Zealand case (for example, New Zealand has much less to fear from an Islamist terrorist attack that the US or UK for a variety of reasons, yet the proposed changes to 2003 Act are justified in part on preventing such attacks on New Zealand soil or against New Zealand interests even though by their own account neither the SIS or GCSB see such threats as likely or imminent). New Zealand’s culture of privacy is also dissimilar to those of the US and UK, which have far more pervasive mass surveillance systems in public places and domestic cultures of violence and criminality that far exceed those of New Zealand.

          Selwyn Manning.SELWYN MANNING: What are the consequences of this legislation from an applied or operative viewpoint (for example, are NZ’s intelligence capabilities able to be deployed on a scope permitted within this legislation), and, also, what is the likely impact on New Zealanders, permanent residents and recent immigrants (from a civil liberties point of view)?

          Paul-BuchananDR PAUL BUCHANAN: With the help of its Echelon partners, the GCSB and New Zealand intelligence community will be able to more effectively engage its expanded signals intelligence role and strengthen its cyber espionage and counter-espionage capability. However, the impact on New Zealand residents and citizens will include among other things the sharing of their meta-data within the 5 Eyes network, and the warrantless surveillance of those classified as foreign persons or entities. The latter encompass foreign-based private firms, NGOs, IGOs, political organizations (such as transnational refugee organizations or parties in exile), labor confederations, sports groups as well as diplomatic missions. “Foreign entities” also include New Zealand citizens and residents who work for such organizations, who could be spied upon without a warrant in their work environment or in a work-related capacity (such as using their lap- or desk tops to do work at home).

          – See more at: http://thedailyblog.co.nz/2013/08/18/special-feature-for-china-is-the-gcsb-bill-one-insult-too-many/#sthash.pclz1OUX.dpuf

      • Murray Olsen 7.1.2

        I doubt if anything is directly connected to the cable that you could notice by swimming along it, for example. Because of the interconnectedness of the internet, I think it could be done from any powerful enough computer that was connected to the net. Or maybe more likely, connected to whatever computer legally sits at the end of the cable. Mind you, I’m just guessing here.

        • weka 7.1.2.1

          Bit of background here on how other cables are tapped, including reference the to submarine that Snowden talked about last night). Nice bit of historical context of cable tapping the Russians in the 70s too.

          In 2005, the Associated Press reported that a submarine called the USS Jimmy Carter had been repurposed to carry crews of technicians to the bottom of the sea so they could tap fiber optic lines. The easiest place to get into the cables is at the regeneration points — spots where their signals are amplified and pushed forward on their long, circuitous journeys. “At these spots, the fiber optics can be more easily tapped, because they are no longer bundled together, rather laid out individually,” Deutsche Welle reported.

          But such aquatic endeavors may no longer even be necessary. The cables make landfall at coastal stations in various countries, where their data is sent on to domestic networks, and it’s easier to tap them on land than underwater. Britain is, geographically, in an ideal position to access to cables as they emerge from the Atlantic, so the cooperation between the NSA and GCHQ has been key. Beyond that partnership, there are the other members of the “Five Eyes” — the Australians, the New Zealanders, and the Canadians — that also collaborate with the U.S., Snowden said.

          http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/07/the-creepy-long-standing-practice-of-undersea-cable-tapping/277855/

    • Tracey 7.2

      is it possible that once the Act became law he took it off hold?

      • yeshe 7.2.1

        Possibly. But I am thinking the NSA hold all the cards here, and we are but fodder.

        Key has refused to answer if NSA funds GCSB all or in part. ( wtf?)

        But to my knowledge, and pse correct me, I have not heard him asked if the NSA have their own independent office in Wellington, either inside or outside of GCSB.

        Greenwald or Amsterdam in the wonderful Laila Harre interview yesterday suggested it is even possible Key is such a puppet to his masters that he doesn’t actually know the whole truth of what has gone on.

        Monty Python could not have written this.

        • Tracey 7.2.1.1

          Are you suggesting that the NSA have the means now to mass/wholesale collect our metadata but by not having the GCSB do it directly key is seen to be telling the truth?

          • yeshe 7.2.1.1.1

            Yes. I took that possibility from the interview Laila did; it’s not implausible to me.

            Though Key would have been involved somehow especially in seeing the new laws up and running, not really having any idea what was actually going on. And those new laws for sure had NSA input into them, no question.

            The comment on Laila’s programme really got me wondering … ‘cos when all is said and done, Key is a bit player. He is our major player, but to the ‘others’, he is an expendable pawn. ( And to us too, of course, but that’s another post!)

            ( Going out now til mid arvo .. interested in your thoughts later)

            • Tracey 7.2.1.1.1.1

              So your suggestion is the Key is kind of to the US what Slater is to key? A means to an end?

              It is clear, to me anyway, that Key has moved us monumentally intot he pocket of the USA. The thawing of relations under his stewardship has not led to one jot of trade advantage or other advantage to NZ…. so why?

              • That would be theorizing and that would mean that there may have been people conspiring to reach a goal. And we know that our governments don’t do that. However, when I asked writer and journalist G Edward Griffin what would happen if we voted John Key in. He said “he will sell your country to his rich mates and throw in his mother with the deal.
                When I asked him could he have been groomed to do this? He said: “It has happened before.”

                I was called that crazy conspiracy theorist when I wrote about this two months before he was elected. I hope this helps.

              • yeshe

                @Tracey — not 100% sure of your analogy, but certainly Key is the means to an end. He is to thawing the relationship what sunshine is to snow.

                And as you point out, there has been not a jot of benefit to NZ … I propose there was never intended to be. Treason I call it. Let’s see now what comes out.

                And thx travellerev and Ann; thought provoking isn’t it ?.

        • Anne 7.2.1.2

          But to my knowledge, and pse correct me, I have not heard him asked if the NSA have their own independent office in Wellington, either inside or outside of GCSB.

          @yeshe
          I’m pretty sure they would have an NSA operative/operatives inside the GCSB who work alongside the GCSB staff. I read somewhere that GCSB staff are transferred to NSA on a regular basis presumably for extra training.

          I have no quarrel with that arrangement in the normal course of events. All the western intelligence agencies spend time with one another which is probably a good thing. It ensures they are all on the same wavelength so to speak.

          The difficulty arises when they start mass-surveilling innocent people… simply because they can. And then manipulate the public mind (easy enough to do it would seem) by creating sometimes fictitious terrorist threats or grossly exaggerating a potential threat to justify the “wholesale” surveillance. This is the real crime!

          • Olwyn 7.2.1.2.1

            I would also have issues with spying on nations with whom we are ostensibly friends, for the benefit of the US corporations. Co-operation ought not to mean slavishly disregarding both moral constraints and our relationships with other countries.

            • Anne 7.2.1.2.1.1

              +1

              It’s obvious that this “spying on friendly nations for the benefit of corporatised America” is something that began under John Key’s watch. He is first and foremost a part of that regime, and I often wonder what part they played in ‘assisting’ John Key into the prime-ministerial role for that particular purpose.

              • Tracey

                Yeah it is fascinating that he would be surprised if there was proof of us spying on China but not of us spying on allies…

                It’s like the media don’t blink, they just nod

              • yeshe

                Anne .. and you have just won first prize !

              • Murray Olsen

                Why is it obvious, Anne? Hager showed us ages ago that the intelligence agencies, or at least elements within them, make up their own rules. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they were working for Washington as far back as the Lange government, if not earlier. I suspect the only difference now is that the PM is aware of it and supports it.

                • Anne

                  You may well be right Murray Olsen but I don’t believe for one moment that the specific nature of today’s surveillance – which is in reality more to do with economic considerations than anything else – became such a prominent aspect of NZ’s intelligence gathering until John Key arrived on the scene. With the support and connivance of the NSA, he lifted the game into a whole new era of surveillance activity and ensured his chosen man, Fletcher was there to implement it. Indeed, I recall a news story a few years back which seemed to suggest the NSA had financed the upgrading process.

  8. Heather 8

    Agree with all that has been said, Key has resorted to name calling, this is a typical end resort stuff, when people have nothing else, they can offer.
    The interesting thing we have noted is how alone Key is on this one, he has none of his cronies at his side – where is his good mate Stephen Joyce? Bill Englis distanced himself some time ago – but where is everyone else?

    • karol 8.1

      Peter Dunne is even distancing himself from Key on this.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 8.2

      Depends: the ratfuckers are lashing out and threatening everyone in sight, the rest are grieving.

      Just a guess.

    • weka 8.3

      “The interesting thing we have noted is how alone Key is on this one, he has none of his cronies at his side – where is his good mate Stephen Joyce? Bill Englis distanced himself some time ago – but where is everyone else?”

      And yet there was a cabinet paper on the ‘proposal’. Key’s not alone in terms of responsibility or culpability. Which to my mind means we’re looking at not just the potential of the PM resigning, but the whole government.

  9. Tracey 9

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/9070452/GCSB-Prime-Minister-John-Keys-speech

    If you want to read the PM’s speech on the introduction of the third reading of the Bill.

  10. Tracey 10

    Perhaps a journalist could ask this follow up question when Key says

    GCSB is not doing wholesale surveillance on the Nzers…

    “Prime Minister, when are they scheduled to start it?”

  11. karol 11

    Gordon Campbell’s analysis of Key’s responses to Greenwald is excellent.

    This:

    Remember the Key who claimed to be unaware of what on earth the GCSB was up to – trust him, he knew nothing, nothing about the joint Police/FBI/GCSB operation being mounted on Kim Dotcom’s home until virtually the day it happened? All gone. Now we are being expected to regard him as the eagle-eyed monitor who crisply intercepted the GCSB’s proposed new modus operandi and knocked them back when they presumed to step over the line. He’s onto it, except when he isn’t. So, which John Key has been running the GCSB – the one who doesn’t know and can’t be held accountable for what it does, or the one who micro-manages its every intention?
    […]
    It may seem (marginally) plausible that Key should suddenly backtrack on a GCSB programme that he would surely have known about since its inception. Yet could he also in the process, significantly abridge a surveillance system seen as integral to the Five Eyes arrangement ? Logically, that seems highly unlikely. We like to think that we punch above our weight, but outpunching the NSA and unilaterally pulling the plug on a system that has been endorsed by our Five Eyes partners – such that they then wouldn’t be able to implement the system as a whole ? This would be the security intelligence version of withdrawing from the ANZUS pact. Key’s explanation simply doesn’t make sense.

    • Tracey 11.1

      It beggars belief that some still trust him. The safeguard between us and warranted mass surveillance is…

      JOHN KEY….

      “But Mr Key was unable to tell reporters later whether the United States National Security Agency collected wholesale information on New Zealanders for its purposes.

      “I don’t know,” he said.”

      ..

      “Mr Key also said the GCSB did not get other countries to collect information on New Zealanders to circumvent New Zealand law.

      Asked whether the NSA collected wholesale information on New Zealanders for their own purposes, he said: “I don’t have the answer to that – I don’t know.”

      So there you have it, as Gordon Campbell says, we have nothing to worry about provided we trust

      JOHN KEY

      • seeker 11.1.1

        “It beggars belief that some still trust him. The safeguard between us and warranted mass surveillance is…

        JOHN KEY…. ”

        Spot on Tracey as indeed Gordon Campbell via Karol. Thus I will post video evidence yet again of john key’s mo of
        untruthfulness:

        PM John Key grilled on Fletcher’s GCSB appointment
        http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics-videos/news/video.cfm?c_id=1503464&gal_cid=1503464&gallery_id=131968

        Key says Rennie put forward Fletcher’s name @ 40 secs but changes his story @1.46 in, and Very Unusually was actually queried on it by a journalist @ 1.55 and repeats truth or lie @2.05mins. Only video I’ve seen and still able to access that shows him lying.

        (have to give back computer now, have posted as many times as poss.)

    • Kevin Welsh 11.2

      I bet he could recount in great detail, every golf round he has played with Obama though…

  12. Hami Shearlie 12

    Anyone hear what Sir Bruce Ferguson had to say about the collection of metadata by the GCSB when he was in charge? I missed it on Morning Report.

  13. Peter Revell 14

    The Police

    Every breath you take
    Every move you make
    Every bond you break
    Every step you take
    I’ll be watching you

    Every single day
    Every word you say
    Every game you play
    Every night you stay
    I’ll be watching you

    Is this a STING

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