Key on mass collection versus mass surveillance

From John Key’s Monday media conference a sort of differentiation between mass collection of data and mass surveillance.

Question: You’ve said you’ll resign if there’s mass surveillance by the GCSB.

Key: Yep.

Question: Does that promise apply to mass collection of information as well?

Key: No, because in the end I was asked a very specific question, without re-creating history, and that was: are we conducting mass surveillance of New Zealanders?

And the answer is: No. That’s the advice I’ve had from GCSB. It’s not capable of doing that, and legally it’s not allowed to do that.

Question: But you’ve just said no to the question “Does it apply to mass collection?” So mass collection would not trigger, if it was proved there is mass collection, it wouldn’t trigger a resignation under the promise you’ve given?

Key: No.

Question: So the possibility is surely, I don’t know why this can’t be clarified but, the way the GCSB operates, that it hoovers up a whole lot of information and then just drops out the material that relates to New Zealanders.

Key: Well that’s your assessment of it, and look, in the end the law is pretty clear. The law says you can’t collect information about New Zealanders unless there are certain circumstances, and in the event that you collect incidental information about New Zealanders, ah then you know there’s a way of treating that.

And so my view is look, we have the law. We have a purpose of what it’s allowed to do.

And actually you have an Inspector General that’s both had the resources massively increased, and the power significantly increased, and so far in the twelve months that the Inspector General’s been in the job, she hasn’t raised with me concerns.

Ah I’m sure she’ll continue to do her work. Ah she’ll continue to look at these matters. No other previous Inspector General has raised concerns with me.

Um the assurances I’ve had on a repeated basis is as the former Minister I’ve asked them on numerous occasions, especially when the questions were being asked some time ago.

And the absolute assurances I’ve had from the Minister, they do not undertake mass surveillance against New Zealanders.

That’s all I can tell you.

I expect from that the paranoid will remain paranoid – they don’t believe anything what Key says about surveillance anyway – and the apathetic won’t have any idea he said it let alone understand what he said.

From about 13:38:

– source Scoop: NZ PM John Key’s Post Cabinet Press Conference – 9 March 2015

(Note to those who don’t understand New Zild “hoovers” means “vacuums” as in a cyber vacuum cleaner).

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2 Comments

  1. Brown

     /  9th March 2015

    This is just playing games with words. Collection slips to looking without anything other than a decision to shift the posts. The law will be no barrier to a shift. During the cold war we didn’t do this because it was what the bad communists did to their citizens yet here we are doing it.

    Reply
  2. The amazing thing is that the focus keeps drifting away from the question – what does the Governments Agents (GCSB) we do with this “data”? Regardless of whether it is obtained through surveillance or collection; what measures are in place to prevent this material getting into the hands of a foreign power? How is it destroyed and who checks that it is destroyed? Is it not the case that however bad it is for this Government’s Agencies to spy on us – it is a quantum worse for them to pass this information onto another State ?

    Reply

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