Spy ‘revelations’ a flood or a trickle?

Yesterday John Key tried to pre-empt the flood of spy revelations due today. TVNZ reported:

PM: Discount massively everything Nicky Hager says today

Investigative journalist Nicky Hager has promised a big reveal today about New Zealand’s secret spying operations, but the Prime Minister shot down the allegations before they were even made yesterday.

Mr Hager begins a series of revelations from today which he claims show which countries our spies have targeted, when and why.

He said he had spent the last year working through information collected by ex-US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

NZ Herald didn’t cover that but are leading the revelation charge this morning.

#snowdenNZ : Leaked documents show New Zealand spies on its Pacific friends and sends the data to the US

EXCLUSIVE: GCSB collects phone calls, emails and internet data from NZ’s closest and most vulnerable neighbours, secret papers reveal.

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 andwhistleblower 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.

Being ‘exclusive’ makes this look like a carefully managed and packaged release.

That New Zealand collects information from across the Pacific is not a revelation, it would have been very surprising if they didn’t.

Mr Key said it was “bizarre” to reveal details about intelligence at a time when New Zealand faced a terror threat. “We’ve got the situation where we’ve Isil reaching out to cause harm to New Zealanders.”

He said he would not reveal details of intelligence but said it was done for “really, really good reasons”.

When quizzed mid-afternoon he said he had no idea what would be revealed. But, pointing to Hager’s election bombshell Dirty Politics, he said: “Nicky Hager was wrong last time. His information is old. I guarantee you it will be wrong this time.”

Challenged on claims of fabrication, John Key’s office couldn’t point to any basis for the claim.

Hager and the Herald have been researching this for months – Hager said “he had spent the last year working through information “. Key is just finding out today what they have chosen to uncover. We can expect him to fight back some more.

Also:

#snowdenNZ / The price of the Five Eyes club: Mass spying on friendly nations and sending vast amounts of intelligence to NSA

Another headline leading with a hash tag followed by a Twitter sized bite, obviously targeting a wide social media audience.

Leaked Snowden files show most of GCSB’s targets are not security threats to New Zealand, as Government suggests

New Zealand’s electronic surveillance agency has dramatically expanded its spying operations during the years of John Key’s National Government and is automatically funnelling vast amounts of intelligence to the US National Security Agency, top-secret documents reveal.

Since 2009, the Government Communications Security Bureau intelligence base at Waihopai has moved to “full-take collection”, indiscriminately intercepting Asia-Pacific communications and providing them en masse to the NSA through the controversial NSA intelligence system XKeyscore, which is used to monitor emails and internet browsing habits.

NZH balances this coverage with a link to something they published in September last year.:

John Key ‘comfortable’ that NSA is not spying on NZ

Prime Minister John Key says he can’t give an absolute assurance New Zealanders are not subject to mass surveillance by the US National Security Agency (NSA) but he is “comfortable” that is not happening.

Mr Key this afternoon said he was “sure it’s absolutely true” that former NSA analyst Edward Snowden had the capacity to see information about New Zealanders when he worked for the agency, but that information would not have come from mass surveillance programmes run by this country’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).

They highlighted:

- Key concedes claim NZ data may be accessible through XKeyscore
– Says NZ contributes some information to Five Eyes databases
– “But not mass, wholesale surveillance as people might say”
– No evidence of mass surveillance, says security chief

These claims will no doubt be compared to the current flood of revelations.

This is all going to take some digesting and thrashing over to see if there’s anything damning to New Zealand.

And expect John Key to keep playing it down and claiming things have moved on from when Snowden got his data anyway.

It will take a day or few to work out if there are any remarkable revelations,or if it’s a trickle rather than a flood for Key and his Government.

Or if it’s little different to same-old spying that at the most most people will shrug at it and carry on with their lives, clinging to their mobile phones and tablets to keep them connected to the world wide web of intrigue.

Threat of Dunne ‘rethink’ if Peters wins should help National

NZ Herald seems to be trying to make up news but highligthing something they seem to have posited to Peter Dunne may end up helping National in the Northland by-election.

Isaac Davidson has an article with a misleading headline – Peter Dunne wants rethink if Winston Peters wins Northland – and a misleading opening paragraph.

United Future leader Peter Dunne says he would look at revisiting his post-election concessions from the National Party if New Zealand First leader Winston Peters wins the Northland byelection.

That sounds like Dunne has come forward with the idea of a rethink. And:

Mr Dunne pointed to Resource Management reforms as one area which he could have greater influence over if National lost a seat. He said the reforms, which he has expressed concerns about, would “take on quite a different hue” if National relied on his vote to pass.

Mr Dunne noted that his party signed a confidence and supply agreement when National had an outright majority. National has since lost a seat in the final election count and could lose another in Northland.

But then:

Asked whether he would seek greater concessions from National if it lost another seat, he said: “That’s something I’d want to consider. I don’t have an immediate answer at this point.”

So he was asked a question about it, said he would consider it but doesn’t have any answer ‘at this point’.

But by raising the risk to National of a Peters win in Northland should help National.

It makes the by-election a high stakes contest. Most by-elections change little apart from one MP. But Northland could significantly change the balance of power in Government.

This will ensure National is determined to do well. And it should help encourage more National voters to vote (by-elections typically have low turnouts).

And Peters’ decision to stand makes for an interesting twist.

If Peters were to win Northland it would hand potentially much more power to arch-rival Dunne.

It’s possible a Peters win would see National turn to NZ First for support, but that seems very unlikely. It would seem far easier to renegotiate a few policy positions with Dunne than get strung along by Peters in lengthy negotiations and then through the next two and a half years.

And it looks far simpler to motivate National voters to hold onto Northland.

Dirty politics Standard style

A claim that John Key, NZ Herald and David Farrar have all been involved in the ‘dirty politics’ promotion of the meme ‘Angry Andy” has backfired after a failure to provide any proof. Lies, more lies and then resorting to abuse.

A post on Little’s leadership at The Standard quoted a ‘Rodney Hide penned the second piece’ and commented:

Now I know some are reading some Machiavellian “reverse psychology” intentions into Hide’s support, but I think they overestimate both his complexity and his influence. I take the comments at face value, that Andrew Little’s leadership is receiving broad-based support. And that’s good news, because that’s what we need for the Left (as a whole!) to win.

I agree with Anthony (Robins) here (except for ‘we need for the Left to win) but others took to the Machiavellian approach.

This led to a claim by ‘One Anonymous Bloke’ about the promotion of the meme ‘Angry Andy” by John Key, NZ Herald and David Farrar.

As I’ve researched the use of ‘Angry Andy’ it looked to me OAB was making things up so I challenged him to prove his claims. He made lame excuses, diverted, got more lame and ended up resorting to abuse, all common tactics of OAB.

It clearly looks like he lied and kept lying.

Here’s the thread (as it is at the moment):

Incognito 7.3

The way I interpreted Hide’s opinion piece was that he’s trying hard to build a (new) narrative to box in Little. Perhaps the “Angry Andy” narrative wasn’t powerful enough.

  • Pete George 7.3.1

    It was a stupid narrative and only Slater seemed to be trying to push it.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 7.3.1.1

      And John Key.

      And the New Zealand Herald.

      And David Farrar.

      Only they didn’t “seem” to be doing it – I’ll leave the weasel words to you.

      • Sacha 7.3.1.1.1

        Just a beige coincidence, surely. Oh, you mean someone wrote a book last year about similar conniving?

      • Pete George 7.3.1.1.2

        Are you making that up or do you have evidence?

        I don’t remember seeing Farrar use it. Nor Key. Only once by Steven Joyce in Parliament on 26 November (the “cut the crap” day which I thought was good from Little).

        Searching NZ Herald they reported that from Parliament but that’s the only hit on ‘Angry Andy”.

        And only from Slater (frequently) since.

        If you have other evidence I’ll add it to my post.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 7.3.1.1.2.1

          Yes, I have evidence, gained from one simple Google search using the terms “Andrew Little angry”.

          Google tailors its results though, so I expect you’ll just end up reading interesting facts about beige.

          • Pete George

            Well it will be simple for you to prove it with your evidence.

            And if you don’t I’ll presume you’re buillshitting again.

            • Incognito

              A Google Advanced search on “Angry Andy” on the Kiwiblog site or domain gave me 50 hits. Do you want me to list all 50 links for you?

              • Pete George

                Just the ones made in posts by David Farrar will do.

                I’m well aware of the term being used in comments, sometimes that’s been directed at me.

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              :roll:

              No-one cares what the chief fact-checker presumes. Sad and true.

              Can you do something for me, Pete? Every time you plagiarise my remarks at Yawns, include the following disclaimer, there’s a dear.

              OAB says: get your petty unoriginal shite, right here at Yawns, with Petty George, the beige parrot.

              • Pete George

                So you must have bullshitted again. And have switched to your usual diversion and evasion.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  Or, I’m not providing you with links on principle. I told you how to find them, and that was more than you deserve.

                  No wonder your fact checking website was such a complete embarrassing failure, just as everyone said it would be.

                  I’ll post the links if you’ll give me your word that you won’t use them, or any material they contain, at Yawns.

                  Edit: and 3News.

                • Pete George

                  You’re digging yourself deeper. Caught out lying? Unless you can prove you weren’t.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  Key, Joyce, Farrar, 3News, The Herald, even Jamie Mackay has no trouble finding the facts.

                  Either find the links yourself, or commit to not using them at Yawns. Your choice.

                • Pete George

                  It seems clear “you are unable to substantiate with some proof”. Hard to see that as anything but a lying smear followed by lame excuses diversions.

                  Thanks, you’ve been helpful.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  What you find hard is none of my concern. What you find credible loses credibility thereby, as a result of your persistent banal unoriginal mendacity, as has been demonstrated here many many times.

                  You’re a liar, your website is a vehicle for lies. My contempt for it is matched by my contempt for you, and what’s more, it’s widely shared. The contempt, that is, not your website.

                  This website’s boring, mindless, mean.
                  Full of pornography.
                  The kind that’s clean…”

                  Apologies to Johnny Clarke

I’ve searched Google and know that OAB doesn’t have some magic version that gives him results no one else can get. I’ve also searched NZ Herald and Kiwiblog, and have found nothing backs up OAB’s claim.

And neither has he found anything obviously. Nor has Incognito come back with anything.

OAB often plays dirty, lies and smears like this. And claims that the left don’t do dirty politics. OAB is worse than Cameron Slater in some ways, although shares his vindictiveness if caught out..

OAB claims to not belong to a party and there’s nothing to suggest he (if it’s a he) is acting for any party.

But OAB is allowed to act like this at The Standard, Lynn Prentice has defended and made excuses for what he does in the past, and let’s him lie and abuse with impunity, as do the other moderators.

This is typical of the worst of The Standard, and commonplace.

Normal blog etiquette is to back up claims with evidence. Standard Rules state this too:

We are intolerant of people starting or continuing flamewars where there is little discussion or debate. This includes making assertions that you are unable to substantiate with some proof (and that doesn’t mean endless links to unsubstantial authorities) or even argue when requested to do so.

They’re only intolerant when it suits them.

Dirty politics is common like this on the left, and they are either blind to it – it’s only dirty if the other lot do it – or they are being deliberately malicious and hypocritical.

UPDATE: Here’s an ironic comment from OAB:

As an author you have more power than the rest of us. I like Lprent’s strategy of re-posing unanswered questions and giving the tr*ll the option of a citation, a retraction, or a ban.

I didn’t see lprent do that with unanswered questions from OAB today. Which is not surprising given lprent’s support of how OAB operates, like here:

OAB is a determined stirrer. It is often a bit like getting a accidental look into a mirror when I read their comments.

Except over the years OAB has been steadily paring down the number of words required to perform their effect.

And considering OAB’s efforts todazy this one from lprent is very ironic:

OAB expresses opinion, links to facts, and I can’t recall them ever putting a quote out of context. That you don’t like what he says doesn’t make it “dirty”. It just means that you don’t like it and rather than arguing (and having to work for an argu!entire), you prefer smearing. To me that is just lazy.

No links to facts and when called on it he went dirty. And for lprent to accuse me of preferring smearing when he allows OAB to smear at wil and he brags about smearing himself is extreme chutzpah.

A follow-up post here: OAB follow-up

Once were journalists

A very ironic post at Whale Oil – NZ HERALD, RIP - that claims ‘Once Were Journalists’.

Once_Were_Journalists_poste-630x760Cameron Slater once claimed to be a journalist. It’s true that he has done some journalist-type work amongst his posts for pay. The trouble is that it’s impossible to be sure which is which.

Cellphone zombies and large glasses

In her new Herald column Heather du Plessis-Allan writes about Table tweets terrible manners.

Surely we should by now have figured out how to use cellphones courteously. They have been around long enough.

It is a dilemma, given the point of the phone is to allow others to intrude – from a distance – into the moment we’re in. But too often we’re allowing that intrusion to replace the moment. I can’t remember the last time someone ignored their ring tone.

These people who can’t resist the siren song of their phones are called “cellphone zombies”.

A common complaint about cellphone rudeness. But in an opening story:

There’s a legend about a certain wealthy Wellington property developer in the early days of mobile phones. He and a friend were at dinner – or so the story goes – and the friend’s cellphone began to ring. Depending on who’s telling the story, the friend may or may not have answered the phone.

But the next bit, everyone agrees on. The property developer lunged across the table, grabbed the device and plonked it in the nearest water glass.

In the early days of mobile phones that would have needed to be a very large glass.

From  From 1G to 4G- Cell Phones Making Moves – “They were first manufactured in a size similar to a brick”

Gareth Morgan on commonsense and the Treaty of Waitangi

Like it or not the Treaty of Waitangi is a very sifgnificant and influential document in modeerrn New Zealand. Gareth Morgan is writing a series of articles on it for NZ Herald.

The first one is today – Gareth Morgan: Treaty justice triumph of commonsense

Much has been achieved since the renaissance of the Treaty of Waitangi began in 1975. That should be celebrated.

The Treaty – as represented by the original versions of 1840 and all the efforts to modernise its meaning since – describes the relationship between Maori, as the indigenous ethnic group, and all other New Zealanders (again taken as a group). It’s a bilateral relationship that is strong, much stronger than it was before 1975.

As we all know, the Treaty of 1840 made undertakings to Maori. These were broken in many ways, with catastrophic effects we as a society are still grappling with today. The significant achievements since the reconciliation and restoration process began in 1975 are:

1. Recognition of the importance of the unique and permanent rights of Maori in New Zealand society.

2. Acknowledgment that colonisation and Pakeha Treaty breaches decimated Maori society with ongoing intergenerational effects still playing out.

3. Establishment of unique rights for Maori over much of the natural estate and over Maori cultural treasures.

4. Granting of negotiated compensation to Maori for breaches.

5. A commitment to protect the unique bicultural character of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Justice and reparations have been a long time coming and, as generous as they might look to non-Maori, they’re just cents in the dollar for what Maori lost in terms of property. But these settlements were reached after a process of good faith negotiation, albeit having required a fair amount of pragmatism and making-it-up-as-we-go.

This is demonstrated by the way our politicians and Maori negotiators have both compromised.

However, the reparations are just the start of the journey to restore Maori pride and self-esteem – there is much more that needs to be done.

Morgan discusses the pragmatism involved in the process and required for it to work.

…the Treaty is a timeless arrangement, to be continually reinterpreted as the relationship between Maori and other New Zealanders evolves.

However despite this fluidity, the Treaty has limits. Even in its modern “elastic” form it cannot be credibly stretched to legitimise all Maori aspirations.

Morgan concludes:

So this leaves us with the most important question of today: “How do we help Maoridom realise the all-important aspirations encompassed in rangatiratanga (used in Article 2, te reo version) in modern day Aotearoa New Zealand?”

I believe rangatiratanga can and must be addressed, but not through convoluted legal arguments over sovereignty, as currently pursued by the Waitangi Tribunal and iwi leaders.

In my view, this path will result in greater division between Maori and other New Zealanders.

To come:
• Limits of the Treaty process
• Better ways to deliver rangatiratanga for Maori
• One country, two peoples – practical policies.

The series will be interesting, and could provoke a bit of discussion.

Somewhere in between throwing out the Treaty and total Maori say over everything that happens in New Zealand we have to find a pragmatic formula.

Both parties to the treaty need to be realistic about what will work best for everyone in New Zealand. It won’t be easy and not everyone will be happy but it’s commonsense.

National, Labour up in Herald Digipoll

NZ Herald reports on a Digipoll, probably the last political poll of the year. While it’s indicative of support it’s an odd time of year to run a poll, many people will have their minds on things other than politics.

They incorrectly claim:

…in the first political poll since Andrew Little took over the leadership and the first major poll since the September 20 election.

Roy Morgan have published three polls since the election, one of them since Andrew Little became leader.

You have to read through the article to find the key numbers:

  • National 50.4% (up 2.2 on last Digipoll, election result 47.04%)
  • Labour 28.9% (up 3.0, election 25.13%)
  • Greens 9.5% (down 1.6, election 10.7%)
  • NZ First 5.6% (down 2.8, election 8.66%)
  • Maori Party 1.5% (“up a little”, election 1.32%)
  • Mana Party 0.2% (Internet-Mana election 1.42%)
  • United Future and ACT were not given poll results

It’s not surprising to see the two largest parties increasing at the expense of the smaller parties when most people’s minds won’t be very politically inclined.

National will be happy with their result considering they haven’t had a great start to their third term.

Labour and Andrew Little will be encouraged to see their support recovering slightly.

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • John Key 65% (up 0.7%)
  • Andrew Little 13.6% (Goff, Shearer and Cunliffe peaked at 18-19%)

This result means little at this stage.

Rating Andrew Little’s performance:

  • Excellent 5.3%
  • Very good 19.4%
  • Good 24.7%
  • Adequate 23%
  • Poor 7%

That’s very encouraging for Little. I’d rate his performance so far as leader as very encouraging/very good. It will be important for him to start strongly in the New Year and not take too long. David Cunliffe had a poor and belated start to this year and he and Labour never recovered.

Source: Nats, Labour both on rise

It’s annoying that NZ Herald scatters incomplete results through and article and doesn’t provide at least a link to all the pertinent details of the poll. For all I know they could have only managed to poll 200 people this close to Christmas.

UPDATE: Full results apparently

National 50.4%
Labour 28.9%
Greens 9.5%
NZ First 5.6%
Conservatives 2.9%
Maori 1.5%
Act 0.4%
Mana 0.2%
United 0.0%

O’Sullivan versus Journalism, Media and Democracy research

A post at The Standard – NZ Media and blogs vs blogs – quotes from a report from The Journalism, Media and Democracy research centre at AUT University.

More evidence of unethical alliances

Researchers say there is increasing evidence of what it calls unethical alliances between bloggers, politicians, media and public relations companies. The Journalism, Media and Democracy research centre at AUT University says the boundaries between those groups are blurring. The report highlighted what researchers said were major revelations in Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics, and said they cast a shadow over long-established media organisations.

It refers to blogger links with NZ Herald journalists.

Hager’s book has cast a shadow over long established media organisations. After the publication of Dirty Politics, Fran O’Sullivan, Jared Savage and David Fisher, journalists working for The New Zealand Herald, came clean about their earlier collaborations with Slater.

Jared Savage admitted that “information was shared, there was a bit of “horse trading”, we talked about developments as the story rolled along (Savage, 2014).

The paper’s investigative journalist David Fisher admitted in his opinion piece that “Cameron Slater was a contact of mine – Nicky Hager made this clear in Dirty Politics”; before he stopped “dealing with Slater”, he was “speaking to Slater as a contact and source” (Fisher, 2014).

The report quotes how Savage and Fisher ‘came clean” but doesn’t back up their claim about O’Sullivan.

Fran O’Sullivan has responded to this in a comment on the Standard thread:

This is ridiculous. I have never “come clean” about any so-called collaborations with Slater. The author of this academic study fails at 101 Research. If she bothered to check the author would have found I said it was risible to suggest Odgers influenced my writings.

This casts a shadow over the veracity of the research.

The report: JMAD NZ media ownership report 2014

Confronting war versus promoting peace

John Key has outlined the Government approach to dealing with the Islamic State threat in the Middle East. There have been a variety of reactions.

Audrey Young at NZ Herald reports on what Key said in John Key: Kiwi forces will help train Iraqis fight ISIS

Three NZ Defence Force personnel have already left for the Middle East to scope out a role for New Zealand forces to help train Iraqi forces fight Isis, probably in conjunction with Australia.

But any such training would be done “behind the wire” and would be undertaken by regular forces on a base, not by the SAS, Prime Minister John Key said today.

“New Zealand cannot and should not fight Iraqis’ battles for them. I am ruling out New Zealand sending SAS or any troops into combat roles in Iraq.”

Later he said the SAS could be deployed to help to protect a base in which New Zealand Forces were conducting training.

Mr Key said the role of the SAS would not be similar to the “aid and assist” role in Afghanistan, which saw it accompany the Afghanistan Crisis Response Unit on jobs.

The Dominion Post (Stuff) raises fears and dramatics in Key lights a fuse that may fire up terror:

It may not have been coincidence that John Key chose Guy Fawkes day to light a bonfire under New Zealand’s complacency about being far removed from terrorism.

Key’s landmark speech outlining New Zealand’s national security risks paints a stark picture of the rising threat from within.

There are radicalised Islamic State sympathisers living and working among us, some of them actively discussing terrorist acts on New Zealand soil, Key told a Wellington audience.

They included those thwarted in their wish to take up arms in Syria with the Islamic State (Isis) and who now posed a threat to New Zealand’s safety and security.

With the recent shooting at the Canadian Parliament still fresh in people’s minds, few will quibble at Key’s view that we can no longer rely on our place at the bottom of the world protecting us from such acts.

They stress the threat:

But that does not minimise the nature of the threat from Isis and its chilling use of social media to spread its “kill a Westerner” message.

That could be brought even closer to home if Isis makes specific threats to New Zealand after Key’s announcement yesterday of a military contribution. That contribution is likely to be limited and confined to training Iraqi forces.

But Isis is unlikely to draw that distinction.

Karol at The Standard quotes Metiria Turei’s idealistic view in Turei for peace & freedom: rejects politics of fear

The Green Party stands for peace and freedom.

Peace is the best weapon we have in achieving personal security. It is a simple fact that New Zealanders are safest in a peaceful world.

And our democracy is only as strong as our personal freedoms. When personal freedoms are eroded our democracy is weakened.

Today, John Key has eroded both our quest for peace at home and abroad, and eroded New Zealanders personal freedoms.

By offering support the US led war with ISIS we are part of a strategy that reduces the prospects of enduring peace in the Middle East; and in the process we are also being told that we have to give up freedoms here at home too.

Conclusion

Mr Speaker

Today I speak on behalf of a truly independent foreign policy that works for peace as the best form of security.

A foreign policy that aligns foreign and domestic interests.

I speak on behalf of our personal freedoms. I put them on a pedestal, only to be eroded in the most extreme of circumstances.

And I speak on behalf of those New Zealanders who believe in alternatives to war and fear; those who aspire to peace and freedom.

We can build a better world, but it will require a better approach than the one outlined by the Prime Minister today.

Most people want peace – but when some people are intent on war doing nothing won’t stop them. Pacifism didn’t do much good for the Moriori.

Karol concludes:

Today Metiria Turei was bold and clear.  She showed a positive way forward.  I give her a standing ovation!

Rather than accept the narrative Key is trying to build, Turei identities and rejects that narrative. At the same time, she provides an alternative narrative, with a positive way forward.

The real world needs the promotion of peace, but it also needs to confronting of warmongers.

Herald calls hacking “relatively minor” common theft

NZ Herald calls political hacking “common theft” and claims it is “relatively minor”. They are wrong on the first count and I think they are also wrong on the second.

In Editorial: Hager raid an intimidatory over-reaction the Herald voices a concern I share:

The effect of such raids is to intimidate such people from approaching media to disclose uncomfortable truths.

The raid on Nicky Hager’s home may be over the top police action and raises valid concerns about freedom of expression for  journalists – but we don’t know many details apart from Hager’s side of the story so it’s difficult to judge how much of a concern at  this stage.

While the heading promotes this concern the paragraph quoted above is well down the editorial.

I disagree with something in particular the editorial repeats – they talk down the severity of the hacking of Cameron Slater’s private data, possibly for political purposes and used by Hager for political purposes.

In response to a complaint of theft – common old theft – five police officers spent the best part of a day searching the Hager home and taking away everything from computers to an iPod. Not because Hager was considered a “suspect” but because he could be a “witness” to the crime.

The Herald unquestioningly promotes Hager’s version of the raid, and refers to the hacking as “common old theft”. The Rawshark hacking and subsequent use of data to try and defeat the Government in an election campaign is far from ‘common” and it isn’t even theft.

The Ministry of Justice refers to “unauthorised access to a computer system (hacking)” – that’s as I understand it. Copying data is not theft. And Findlaw describes the two offences that Rawshark could be investigated for:

Accessing computer system for dishonest purpose

The Bill creates a new offence of accessing a computer system for a dishonest purpose. Anyone who accesses a computer system and dishonestly, or by deception, either:
obtains some form of property or advantage; or

causes loss to any person;

can be sentenced to up to 7 years imprisonment.

Anyone who accesses a computer system with intent to either cause loss or obtain property is liable for up to 5 years imprisonment.

Accessing a computer system without authorisation

Accessing a computer system without authorisation will become a new crime punishable by up to 2 years imprisonment. This new provision is intended to cover “hacking”.

The new offence will catch a range of cyber crimes that have recently featured in the news, including stealing credit card information from Web sites, industrial espionage, the unauthorised transfer of funds from company bank accounts, and the destruction of data by hackers or disgruntled employees.

Not theft, and not common old theft, new laws were created specifically for hacking type crimes. The Herald should know basics like this, but apparently not:

A complaint of theft had been made and Hager had been identified as the eventual user of the stolen material.

If every theft complaint made to police resulted in this kind of response, searches under warrants of houses and businesses would be constant and not much else would be achieved by our constabulary.

The theft complaint was made by Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater.

It is unlikely anyone else reporting a theft would have resulted in the police raiding the receiver of the stolen property quite so readily.

Apart from the fact that it isn’t theft I’m sure the police readily raid suspected receivers of stolen property quite often.

The editorial concludes:

It would be good if that judge took a stand for freedom of expression. He or she will not be deciding whether the hacking was a crime, just whether the police treatment of Hager and his sources can be justified in the pursuit of that relatively minor criminal offence.

It’s important to determine “whether the police treatment of Hager and his sources can be justified”. If it is more intimidatory than investigative then I’ll have serious concerns.

But referring to it as “a relatively minor criminal offence” is an interesting judgement, considering the hacking of Slater and the use of his data to attempt to bring down the Government is unprecedented.

If political hacking was deemed not worthy of investigation by the police where could that lead us? I think it’s a serious threat to our democracy.

Of course what the Herald doesn’t say is media organisations like the Herald can make headlines if they are provided with hacked data.

While the Herald is not openly encouraging hacking they are trying to depict it as trivial and theft. They’re wrong on both counts.

And the Herald also doesn’t disclose that they are also the recipient of data hacked from Slater. They have a vested interest in encouraging the police to ignore this offence that is deemed serious enough to have a seven year maximum sentence.

The possible intimidating of journalists is a serious issue.

I think political hacking is also a serious issue. The playing down of hacking as minor may be in the Herald’s own interests but I don’t think their self interested stance is good for democracy at all.

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