web analytics

NRT: Did the NSA write John Key’s spy bill?

Written By: - Date published: 1:20 pm, March 11th, 2014 - 16 comments
Categories: Europe, International, john key, Spying, us politics - Tags: , , ,

no-right-turn-256This is a re-post from here at No Right Turn

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden gave evidence to the European Parliament last week about the NSA and mass-surveillance. The most interesting revelation? The NSA’s use of lawyers to subvert other countries limits on surveillance – including our own:

One of the foremost activities of the NSA’s FAD, or Foreign Affairs Division, is to pressure or incentivize EU member states to change their laws to enable mass surveillance. Lawyers from the NSA, as well as the UK’s GCHQ, work very hard to search for loopholes in laws and constitutional protections that they can use to justify indiscriminate, dragnet surveillance operations that were at best unwittingly authorized by lawmakers. These efforts to interpret new powers out of vague laws is an intentional strategy to avoid public opposition and lawmakers’ insistence that legal limits be respected, effects the GCHQ internally described in its own documents as “damaging public debate”.

In recent public memory, we have seen these FAD “legal guidance” operations occur in both Sweden and the Netherlands, and also faraway New Zealand.

[Emphasis added]

So what did GCSB receive “legal guidance” on? Was the secret interpretation of the old law, under which they asserted that metadata wasn’t a communication and so spying on it was lawful, concocted by foreign spies? What about the careful loopholes in the new Act, which allow them to claim the same thing, or conduct mass surveillance for “cybersecurity”? Was John Key’s spy bill really written in Washington, DC?

We need answers on this. And we need protection. The most obvious method is to make the GCSB publish their legal advice, so that we know how they interpret the law, what they believe they are allowed to do, and whether that matches what Parliament and the public think they are allowed to do. They won’t want to do that, of course – and in an environment of secrecy, that can only be interpreted as trying to hide a new “interpretation” to allow unlawful spying.

As for why the NSA is so keen on this, here’s Snowden again:

Once the NSA has successfully subverted or helped repeal legal restrictions against unconstitutional mass surveillance in partner states, it encourages partners to perform “access
operations.” Access operations are efforts to gain access to the bulk communications of all major telecommunications providers in their jurisdictions, normally beginning with those that handle the greatest volume of communications. Sometimes the NSA provides consultation, technology, or even the physical hardware itself for partners to “ingest” these massive amounts of data in a manner that allows processing, and it does not take long to access everything.

And the ultimate goal is for NSA to be given access to that. Of course, they promise not to spy on citizens of the agency which grants them access, but those promises are unenforceable, and in the EU they can often get around it by using one country to spy on another in violation of their agreements with both.

This is what the NSA wants to do to New Zealand. And John Key has just given them a law which enables them to do it. Sure, he’spromised that there’s no “wholesale collection”, but its worth noting here that the NSA doesn’t consider information is “collected” until an actual human reads it – so they can spy on everyone, while denying doing it. The GCSB could be playing similar word-games here. And we won’t know, unless we force the publication of their legal advice.


16 comments on “NRT: Did the NSA write John Key’s spy bill?”

  1. karol 1

    Ah, I was thinking this is an important post and would be worth putting on TS.

  2. One Anonymous Bloke 2

    That’s why Key can’t complain about Collins selling Ministerial visits to Oravida. He sold New Zealand to the NSA.

  3. Tracey 3

    Why do people keep thinking nz isnt like the others?

  4. Tiger Mountain 4

    There is a hell of a lot to wade through here but… give it a go. Phone, ISP and Global positioning records and data let the filth know about where certain people congregate, say at a union building, what they do in their own time–conduct an affair perhaps. All based on data and modelling about peoples habits and particularly vehicle movements within a certain km radius.

    Why would the NSA or GCSB snoop on you? Because they can. They are an integrated feature of US imperialism.

  5. Tracey 5

    If this was done without keys knowledge, his reaction behind closed doors will be fascinating. Its one thing for him to constantly make his followers look stupid but he will hate being made to look stupid and used.

  6. redfred 6

    Barrack: Hey John, Barack here.
    John: Oh Mr President!
    Barack: Now now Barracks fine, how about some quick horse trading
    John: Whatever you say Mr President.
    Barrack: Now John I’ll tell you what, let my boys over at NSA rewrite your spying law and I’ll let you lose against me in a game of golf, fair?
    Key: What ever you say Mr President.

  7. Huginn 7

    It would explain how Key ended up promoting legislation that he didn’t understand.

  8. karol 8

    David Fisher reports on this over at the NZ Herald. He quotes comments from Tech Liberty:

    In listing New Zealand among countries targeted, he said: “Each of these countries received instruction from the NSA, sometimes under the guise of the US Department of Defense and other bodies, on how to degrade the legal protections of their countries’ communications.”

    Cyber rights group Tech Liberty’s spokesman Thomas Beagle said the new laws introduced in New Zealand last year appeared surprisingly quickly.

    “It was like someone had it sitting in a drawer ready to go. Who is really writing these laws.”

    He said the greater concern was the lack of oversight. “It’s never being able to test what they are doing what they say.”

  9. Sosoo 9

    How many people actually care? The impression I get from talking to folks about this (and I do a lot of that in my job) is that only a minority of people care. The majority appear to think that the “nothing to hide = nothing to fear” principle is true. Commentators seem to wildly underestimate how submissively authoritarian the average person is. It sucks, but as long as they get to post inane messages to Facebook people don’t seem to care.

    • exitlane 9.1

      Many kiwis were outraged when our nuclear free policy was being undermined in Washington and many will be similarly outraged that our spy laws are being written by US spies

      now they know … with the NZ Herald, TV3 and Radio NZ giving the story legs today

      • politikiwi 9.1.1

        I hope you’re right, exitlane, but I fear Sosoo is on the money here: Most people feel that all this enhanced surveillance protects them. I guess the reason people think that is basic intuition: “if everyone’s being watched all the time, they’ll never do anything wrong, and if they can’t do anything wrong then they can’t hurt me. And it’s fine for me because I never do anything wrong, so what am I worried about?”

        It strikes me as naive and backwards to think that way, but that doesn’t stop a lot of people.

  10. peterlepaysan 10

    John Key is a USA puppet.

    Always has been.

    Washington and Wall Street run this country.

    The USA needs hegemony over the Pacific. Ocean, Howard gifted Oz to the yanks. The yanks want us well, they sent us John Key.

    The NZ National Party has a hell of a lot of explaining to do, as do the various business and employer lobby groups that support that party.

    The National Party, under John Key has allowed this country to be raped by the USA.

    Having said that , I have to admit that are more than one other possible rapists lurking nearby.

    I actually think rape is utterly revolting and should inspire revolutions.

  11. Clemgeopin 11

    What needs to happen immediately is for Labour to state unequivocally that if in power, it will immediately review the spy laws thoroughly consult widely and rewrite the spy laws so that our own sovereignty, honour, freedom, decency, fairness and values are not compromised. Does Labour and its leaders have the courage and integrity to take such a stand and follow through?

    • Clemgeopin 11.1

      Listen to this very good interview of Mr Cunliffe on TV3 this morning. Towards the end, he was asked about the Snowden’s revelations about NSA and the NZ spy law. Stangley TV3 left out Mr Cunliffe’s excellent response and important commitment in its transcript below the video!

      Here is the video:

      And here is Mr Cunliffe’s unequivocal response:

      “Labour is absolutely right to have made a commitment to a digital bill of rights which will protect New Zealanders rights and freedoms in cyber space. We have previously said and I will repeat again today that we will repeal the GCSB law and replace it with one that protects New Zealanders privacy and which requires a warrant before any intercept of New Zealander’s communications”

      I think that is a very clear statement and should be given very wide publicity often through out this election period. I think a vast majority of Kiwi’s will support this fair and enlightened policy.

  12. NZ Jester 12

    It’s not just us new Zealanders that should be worried about this but the American public also.
    While the NSA can not legally spy on US citizens at will, our GCSB can. The NSA using the data sharing agreements they have with the GCSB can then spy on any US citizen without needing a warrant as they are technically not doing the spying themselves.
    It sounds a lot like what is meant to be our GCSB has been taken over by the NSA and is now their GCSB.

    • Murray Olsen 12.1

      I’d laugh if GCSB agents were caught spying on Americans and prosecuted. All it would need would be an independent minded federal prosecutor. Wouldn’t it be great to see Key’s schoolboy mate doing 20 years in a federal pen?

Recent Comments

Recent Posts


  • September benefit figures disappointing
    The Government is out of touch with the reality that fewer people are going off the benefit and into employment or study, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni.  “The quarterly benefit numbers for September are concerning. They show that ...
    4 days ago
  • MFAT officials refuse to back Prime Minister on Saudi sheep claims
    An Ombudsman’s interim decision released about the existence or otherwise of legal advice on the multimillion dollar Saudi sheep deal shows MFAT has failed to back up the Prime Minister’s claims on the matter, says Labour MP David Parker. “The ...
    4 days ago
  • Nats still planning to take Housing NZ dividend
    Housing New Zealand’s Statement of Performance Expectations shows that the National Government intends to pocket $237m from Housing New Zealand this year including a $54m “surplus distribution”, despite promises that dividends would stop, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “After ...
    5 days ago
  • Parliament must restore democracy for Ecan
    Parliament has a chance to return full democracy to Canterbury with the drawing of a member’s bill that would replace the Government’s appointed commissioners with democratically elected councillors, says Labour’s Canterbury Spokesperson Megan Woods. “In 2010, the Government stripped Cantabrians ...
    5 days ago
  • Police struggle to hold the line in Northland
    Labour’s promise of a thousand extra police will go a long way to calming the fears of people in the North, says the MP for Te Tai Tokerau Kelvin Davis.  “Police are talking about the Northland towns of Kaitaia and ...
    5 days ago
  • Urgent action on agriculture emissions needed
    Immediate action is required to curb agricultural emissions is the loud and clear message from Climate change & agriculture: Understanding the biological greenhouse gases report released today by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, says Labour’s Climate Change spokesperson Megan ...
    6 days ago
  • Super Fund climate change approach a good start
    Labour Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson and Climate Change Spokesperson Dr Megan Woods have welcomed the adoption of a climate change investment strategy by the New Zealand Super Fund. “This is a good start. It is a welcome development that the Super ...
    6 days ago
  • Raising the age the right thing to do
    The announcement today that the Government will leave the door open for young people leaving state care still means there is a lot of work to do, says Labour's Spokesperson for Children, Jacinda Ardern "The Government indicated some time ago ...
    6 days ago
  • Coleman plays down the plight of junior doctors
    Junior doctors are crucial to our health services and the industrial action that continues tomorrow shows how desperately the Government has underfunded health, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “Jonathan Coleman’s claim that he has not seen objective evidence of ...
    7 days ago
  • Inflation piles pressure on National and Reserve Bank
    While many households will welcome the low inflation figures announced today, they highlight serious questions for both the National government and the Reserve Bank, Labour’s  Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson said.  "While low inflation will be welcomed by many, the ...
    1 week ago
  • Officials warned Nat’s $1b infrastructure fund ineffective and rushed
    Treasury papers show the Government rushed out an infrastructure announcement officials told them risked making no significant difference to housing supply, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “Like so much of National’s housing policy, this was another poll-driven PR initiative ...
    1 week ago
  • More cops needed to tackle P
    New Police statistics obtained in Written Questions show John Key is losing his War on P, highlighting the need for more Police, says Opposition Leader Andrew Little.  “New Zealanders expect serious action on P but today’s hodgepodge of half-measures won’t ...
    1 week ago
  • MBIE docs show country needs KiwiBuild, not Key’s pretend “building boom”
    John Key’s spin that New Zealand is in a building boom does not change the massive shortfall in building construction as new MBIE papers reveal, says Labour Party housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “We can fix the housing crisis, by the ...
    1 week ago
  • 1 in 7 Akl houses now going to big property speculators
    Speculators are running riot in the Auckland housing market making life tougher for first home buyers, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  Newly released data from Core Logic shows a 40 per cent increase in the share of house sales ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour mourns passing of Helen Kelly
    Helen Kelly was a passionate advocate for working New Zealanders and for a safe and decent working life, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says.  “Helen Kelly spent her adult life fighting for the right of every working person to ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Andrew Little: Speech to the Police Association Conference 2016
    Police Association delegates, Association life members and staff, representatives from overseas jurisdictions. Thank you for inviting me here today. The Police Association has become a strong and respected voice for Police officers and for policing in New Zealand. There is ...
    2 weeks ago
  • 1,000 more police for safer communities
    Labour will fund an extra 1,000 Police in its first term to tackle the rising rate of crime, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “Labour will put more cops on the beat to keep our communities safe. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Call for all-party round table on homelessness
    Labour is calling on the Government to take part in a roundtable meeting to hammer out a cross-party agreement on ending homelessness.  Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford said the country wanted positive solutions to homelessness, and wanted the political parties ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Working people carrying the can for the Government
    Today’s announcement of a Government operating surplus is the result of the hard work of many Kiwi businesses and workers, who will be asking themselves if they are receiving their fair share of growth in the economy, Grant Robertson Labour ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Breast cancer drugs should be available
    Labour supports the Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition’s campaign for better access to cancer treatments as more patients are denied what is freely available in Australia, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “In the last three years, PHARMAC’s funding has been ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Community law centres get much needed support from banks
      New Zealand’s network of community law centres, who operate out of more than 140 locations across the country, have today received a much needed boost, says Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern.  “After more than 8 years of static funding ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Just 18 affordable homes in Auckland SHAs – It’s time for KiwiBuild
    New data revealing just 18 affordable homes have been built and sold to first home buyers in Auckland’s Special Housing Areas show National’s flagship housing policy has failed and Labour’s comprehensive housing plan is needed, says Leader of the Opposition ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Pasifika wins big in Auckland elections
    The Labour Party’s Pacific Candidates who stood for local elections in Auckland came out on top with 14 winners, says Labour’s Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio. “Our candidates have won seats on one ward, four local boards, two ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Seven7 hikoi to stop sexual violence
    2 weeks ago
  • Road toll passes 2013 total
    The road toll for the year to date has already passed the total for the whole of 2013, raising serious questions about the Government’s underfunding of road safety, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Sue Moroney.  “According to the Ministry of Transport, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bay principals slam charter school decision
    A letter from Hawke’s Bay principals to the Education Minister slams the lack of consultation over the establishment of a charter school in the region and seriously calls into question the decision making going on under Hekia Parata’s watch, says ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government needs to act on voter turnout crisis
    With fewer than 40 per cent of eligible voters having their say in the 2016 local elections, the Government must get serious and come up with a plan to increase voter turnout, says Labour’s Local Government Spokesperson Meka Whaitiri. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Inquiry presents solutions to homelessness – Govt must act
    Labour, the Green Party and the Māori Party are calling on the Government to immediately adopt the 20 recommendations set out in today's Ending Homelessness in New Zealand report. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • A good night for Labour’s local government candidates
    It has been a good night for Labour in the local government elections. In Wellington, Justin Lester became the first Labour mayor for 30 years, leading a council where three out of four Labour candidates were elected. Both of Labour’s ...
    2 weeks ago
  • More contenders for fight clubs
    Allegations of fight clubs spreading to other Serco-run prisons must be properly investigated says Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Minister runs for cover on job losses
    Māori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell’s refusal to show leadership and provide assurances over the future of the Māori Land Court is disappointing, given he is spearheading contentious Maori land reforms which will impact on the functions of the Court, ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Kiwisaver contribution holiday not the break workers were looking for
    The number of working New Zealanders needing to stop Kiwisaver payments is another sign that many people are not seeing benefit from growth in the economy, says Grant Robertson Labour’s Finance spokesperson. "There has been an increase of 14 ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Fight Club failings
    The Corrections Minister must take full responsibility for the widespread management failings within Mt Eden prison, says Labour’s Corrections spokesperson Kelvin Davis. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Rethink welcomed
    The Labour Party is pleased that Craig Foss is reconsidering the return of New Zealand soldiers buried in Malaysia, says Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer. “For the families of those who lie there, this will a welcome move. The ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Disappointment over UN vote
    Helen Clark showed her characteristic drive and determination in her campaign to be UN Secretary General, and most New Zealanders will be disappointed she hasn't been selected, says the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. "Helen Clark has been an ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Māori need answers on Land Court job losses
    Māori landowners, Māori employees and Treaty partners need answers after a Ministry of Justice consultation document has revealed dozens of roles will be disestablished at the Māori Land Court, says Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Key’s ‘efficiencies’ = DHBs’ pain
          John Key’s talk of ‘efficiencies’ ignores the fact the Government is chronically underfunding health to the tune of $1.7 billion, says Labour’s Acting Health spokesperson Dr David Clark.       ...
    3 weeks ago
  • More than 1,300 schools to face budget cuts
    The latest Ministry of Education figures reveal thousands of schools will face cuts to funding under National’s new operations grant funding model, says Labour's Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. ...
    3 weeks ago