- Date published:
6:29 am, March 5th, 2015 - 170 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, Deep stuff, International, john key, national, Politics - Tags: dirty politics, edward snowden, Glenn Greenwald, nicky hager
The Herald this morning has reported on the latest analysis of New Zealand’s data gathering role based on Eric Snowden’s files. The story is bound to have a profound effect on New Zealand’s relationship with its Pacific neighbours. Essentially New Zealand has been collecting data en masse from them and handing it over to the Americans.
New Zealand’s spies are targeting the entire email, phone and social media communications of the country’s closest, friendliest and most vulnerable neighbours, according to documents supplied by United States fugitive and whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Snowden’s files reveal a heavy focus on “full-take collection” from the Pacific with nearly two dozen countries around the world targeted by our Government Communications Security Bureau.
Information from across the Pacific is collected by New Zealand’s GCSB but sent onto the United States’ National Security Agency to plug holes in its global spying network, the documents show.From there, the documents show information collected by New Zealand is merged with data captured from across the world. It is then able to be accessed by the NSA’s XKeyscore computer program through an online shopping-style interface, which allows searching of the world’s communications.
Our beloved Prime Minister tried yesterday to usurp the claims. It appears his office was approached for a response and it adopted the standard “we do not know that the documents are true but the claims are false” line.
Today Key went on the attack, giving “very strong advice” for New Zealanders not to believe Hager, whose Dirty Politics book was a major theme of the September election.
That book alleged that National used a strategy of making Key the friendly face of the government while using right-wing blogs, most notably Whale Oil, to attack opponents. It was based on correspondence hacked from Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater’s computers.
Key claimed the material in Dirty Politics was wrong, and the same would be the case this time.
“Last time he came out with all this stuff, he was categorically wrong, he’ll be wrong this time as well, because information changes, we review things all the time, different actions are taken,” Key said this afternoon.
It had never been in doubt that New Zealand gathered and shared intelligence, he said.
“What a bizarre time to be coming out making the case that New Zealand either gathers and shares information or gets information from other intelligence agencies.
“Well, of course we do, and we do that to keep New Zealanders safe. We’re in the situation where we’ve got ISIL [Islamic State] reaching out to cause harm to New Zealanders, I think New Zealanders would expect me to share information,” Key said.
“My very strong advice to New Zealanders is [to] discount massively everything you hear from Nicky Hager. He was wrong last time, he’s wrong this time, his interests are his own self-serving interests, not the rest of the country.”
Key did not confirm or deny that New Zealand’s spy agencies were spying in the Pacific.
“I’m not going into who we gather information from, or why, but I can tell you we do gather information, we have over successive governments across a range of different places, but we do that for really, really good reasons.”
“We don’t do that loosely or randomly, and actually, those situations change dramatically.”
I cannot imagine a more random gathering of information than collecting all of it and providing it to the Americans. And it will be interesting for Key to explain how the handing over of the data of kiwis living or holidaying in the Pacific to the Americans is legal or complies with previous promises that there is no mass surveillance of New Zealanders. As a minimum it would appear that Kiwis in the Pacific Islands have been subject to mass surveillance.
I suspect that National will look rattled on this issue for a few days. Until the focus group results are in.