No mass surveillance

The First Independent Review of Intelligence and Security in New Zealand  looked at whether mass surveillance was being carried out by the GCSB.

The report  concludes that there is no mass surveillance.

It was clear to us from our discussions with GCSB staff and from the GCSB’s own internal policy documents that these restrictions are interpreted and applied conservatively.

Far from carrying out “mass surveillance” of New Zealanders, the GCSB is unable to intercept New Zealanders’ communications even where it is for their own safety.

For example, the GCSB would be unable to analyse the communications of a New Zealander taken hostage in a foreign country unless it was assisting the NZSIS, NZDF or Police under their legislation.

That’s unlikely to change the minds of security and surveillance critics. Green co-leader Metiria Turei:

The GCSB had already been “quite liberal and loose” with their existing activities, and they should not be given more powers until it was clear they would follow the law.

That’s the opposite of what the report found.

Here are relevant references from the report.

1.11   In New Zealand, there has been considerable debate in the media about whether the GCSB conducts “mass surveillance” of New Zealanders. Having spent some months learning about the Agencies’ operations in detail, we have concluded that this is not the case, for reasons we discuss below.  However, there is a degree of scepticism among the New Zealand public about the Agencies’ activities.

In a survey carried out by the Privacy Commissioner in 2014, 52 percent of respondents were concerned about surveillance by New Zealand government agencies. We received a number of submissions from people who did not see the need for intelligence and security agencies at all and considered there was no justification for the government intruding on individuals’ privacy.

Does the GCSB conduct “mass surveillance”?

3.34  As we discussed in Chapter 1, there has been some debate in the public arena about whether the GCSB conducts “mass surveillance”. In light of this, we considered it important to describe what the GCSB does and does not do. While we cannot go into as much detail as we would have liked given the classified nature of the GCSB’s operational activities, we hope what we can say will inform this debate in a useful way.

3.35  “Mass surveillance” is a term that can be understood in a number of different ways. In this context it is important to distinguish between communications that are collected by GCSB systems – for example, its satellite interception station at Waihopai – and those that are actually selected and examined by an analyst.

3.36  The reality of modern communications is that it is often not possible to identify and copy a specific communication of interest in isolation. If a particular satellite might carry a relevant communication, the GCSB cannot search for that communication before interception occurs. First it needs to intercept a set of communications, most of which will be of no relevance and will be discarded without ever being examined by an analyst. This is the haystack in which the needle must be found.

3.37  Even this “haystack” represents only a tiny proportion of global communications. The GCSB conservatively estimates that there are over 1 billion communications events every day on the commercial satellites that are visible from Waihopai station. These represent approximately 25 percent of commercial satellites that match the Earth’s rotation (although signals cannot always be secured even from those satellites that are visible). We were told the proportion of those 1 billion communications that are actually intercepted equates to roughly one half of a bucket of water out of an Olympic-sized swimming pool.

3.38  To find the “needle” (or the communications that are of intelligence value), the GCSB filters intercepted material for relevance using search terms. Only those communications that meet the selection criteria are ever seen by an analyst. The GCSB has internal processes in place toensure analysts justify their use of each search term and record all searches for the purpose of internal audits and review by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security.

3.39 Given these controls on what information can actually be examined by analysts, in our view the GCSB’s ability to intercept sets of communications does not amount to mass surveillance. That term suggests a kind of active monitoring of the general population that does not occur. It would neither be lawful nor even possible given the GCSB’s resourcing constraints.

3.40 Capacity acts as a check on all signals intelligence agencies, although it is particularly pronounced for the GCSB given its comparatively small size. It is simply not possible to monitor communications (or other data) indiscriminately. Professor Michael Clarke, the (now retired) Director-General of the UK’s Royal United Services Institute who convened the 2015 Independent Surveillance Review, referred to this when giving evidence before the Joint Committee on the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill:97 The other great safeguard is the sheer physical capacity. One will be astonished at how little [intelligence agencies] can do, because it takes so much human energy to go down one track. The idea that the state somehow has a huge control centre where it is watching what we do is a complete fantasy. The state and GCHQ [the UK’s signal’s intelligence agency] have astonishingly good abilities, but it is as if they can shine a rather narrow beam into many areas of cyberspace and absorb what is revealed in that little, narrow beam. If they shine it there, they cannot shine it elsewhere. The human limitation on how many cases they can look at once is probably the biggest safeguard.

3.41 We also observe that there are currently restrictions on the GCSB’s ability to intercept the private communications of New Zealand citizens and permanent residents. These restrictions apply to New Zealanders anywhere in the world, not just those in New Zealand. It was clear to us from our discussions with GCSB staff and from the GCSB’s own internal policy documents that these restrictions are interpreted and applied conservatively. Far from carrying out “mass surveillance” of New Zealanders, the GCSB is unable to intercept New Zealanders’ communications even where it is for their own safety. For example, the GCSB would be unable to analyse the communications of a New Zealander taken hostage in a foreign country unless it was assisting the NZSIS, NZDF or Police under their legislation.

 

 

 

More pressure against mass data collection

The New Zealand public was assured that no mas collection of communications was done by the GCSB. This didn’t stop speculation and claims that mass collection was being done, in large part due to the revelation that Five Eyes partner the USA carried out mass collection.

It was believed by some that this data was then available to our GCSB, despite assurances only specifically targeted people were investigated under legal warrants.

This has changed now, as NZ Herald reports in NZ to face pressure over mass collection of telephone data.

A decision to stop the mass collection of Americans’ telephone data will put pressure on New Zealand intelligence agencies to stop any similar programmes operating here.

Last week the US House of Representatives voted to end the NSA’s bulk collection of Americans’ phone records through the USA Freedom Act, which was already backed by the White House.

The bill, which only affects people within the US, would empower the agency to search data held by telephone companies on a case-by-case basis.

It was re-confirmed that mass collection didn’t happen here.

Rebecca Kitteridge, director of the Security Intelligence Service, yesterday told the same conference that mass surveillance did not take place.

“We do not live in a surveillance state where everything you do online is reported – at least not by the Government. So, please enjoy the freedom that the internet gives you – you are free to click on whatever you want on your device, and you won’t pop up on our system.

“Typically we get our leads through our interaction with the public, and information provided to us by other agencies.”

In a speech Peter Dunne says the US change will put pressure on the Security and Intelligence review that starts this year,

In a speech to a privacy and identity conference in Wellington, Mr Dunne said it was crucial that there were robust systems in place to protect the privacy of personal information from a “coercive or prying” state.

“Last week, the United States House of Representatives voted to stop the mass collection of Americans’ telephone data by the National Security Agency.

“I suspect New Zealanders would have a similar view about their telephone records, and that there will now be pressures on our intelligence agencies to stop any mass data collection programmes they have underway, especially if it is being made available on an indiscriminate basis to other countries.”

Asked after his speech if he believed mass collection programmes were operating here, Mr Dunne told the Herald that the recent US action raised questions that should be addressed in an upcoming review of our intelligence agencies.

“I think in context of the intelligence services review, that American decision becomes pretty relevant. If it is illegal in the United States to gather that data…then, you have to say, if it is being gathered in New Zealand – and that’s an open question – and provided, you can’t have it both ways,” Mr Dunne said.

“You can’t say it’s illegal here [in the US] to provide this data about our people, but it’s not illegal for you [New Zealand] to provide data about your people to us. I think that is the question I am raising, and I think that’s something the review needs to consider.”

The review:

Next month a wide-ranging review headed by former Deputy Prime Minister Sir Michael Cullen and lawyer Dame Patsy Reddy will examine both the SIS and GCSB.

The first regular review of the agencies, it will examine the legislative framework governing them, and consider how they are placed to protect New Zealand’s interests and security.

It would be good – and essential – to clarify the issue of how partner countries could assist with data gathering. As far as I’m aware it would still have to comply with our laws and only be done under warrant in specific circumstances.

Amnesty International spy poll slanted to support anti-spying campaign

David Fisher, spy reporter at NZ Herald, writes about an Amnesty International New Zealand and global survey on spying – Most Kiwis reject Govt spying – survey:

Kiwis have rejected government surveillance of their own communications – and that of people in other countries, according to new survey.

An Amnesty International survey of about 1000 people shows 63 per cent of Kiwis surveyed are opposed to the government monitoring and storing their own internet and mobile phone use.

It’s not surprising that most people don’t want their communications monitored and stored.But they weren’t asked if they supported the monitoring of communications of possible criminals and terrorists.

Prime Minister John Key has rejected the claims, saying there is no mass surveillance of New Zealanders here or abroad.

Key also keeps emphasising that New Zealand law forbids mass surveillance of New Zealanders.

And it’s also not surprising to see Amnesty International do a global survey that shows opposition to spying. They publicised the poll in a press release yesterday – NZers part of global opposition to mass surveillance (Scoop).

New Zealanders part of global opposition to USA big brother mass surveillance

“Big brother mass surveillance” is a fairly loaded statement indicative of Amnesty International’s feelings.

The United States’ mass surveillance of internet and phone use flies in the face of global public opinion, said Amnesty International as it published a major poll to launch its worldwide #UnfollowMe campaign.

So the poll is part of a worldwide anti-spying campaign. That doesn’t give confidence of an impartial approach.

The poll, which questioned 15,000 people from 13 countries across every continent, including New Zealand, found that 71% of respondents were strongly opposed to the United States monitoring their internet use.

That’s not surprising, apart from it being only 71%. But it depends on what is meant by ‘monitoring their internet use’.

I don’t want a spy in the US monitoring everything I do on the Internet. But I don’t have a problem with the scanning of data looking for potentially dangerous intent.

“Today’s technology gives governments unprecedented power to watch what we do on the internet. We need independent scrutiny to watch the watchers so that power is not abused. Yet today there is little or no legislation in any country that really protects our human right to privacy against indiscriminate mass surveillance. Indeed, more countries are actually considering laws granting wider surveillance powers, at the expense of people’s rights.”

That’s blatantly misleading in a New Zealand context. We have laws that prohibits surveillance without having a specific warrant for a specific target, so it prohibits mass surveillance.

And we have an independent scrutiny via the Inspector General who’s job is specifically to “watch the watchers so that power is not abused.”

“Yet today there is little or no legislation in any country that really protects our human right to privacy against indiscriminate mass surveillance” is false. We have legislation for this in New Zealand.

Here’s some of the YouGov / Amnesty Survey Results.

Sample Size: 1008 New Zealand Adults
Fieldwork: 4th – 13th February 2015

Do you think the New Zealand Government should or should not intercept, store and analyse internet use and mobile phone communications of…
…all New Zealand citizens living in New Zealand
Should intercept, store and analyse internet use and mobile communications 22
Should not intercept, store and analyse internet use and mobile communications 63
Don’t know 15
…all foreign nationals in New Zealand
Should intercept, store and analyse internet use and mobile communications 43
Should not intercept, store and analyse internet use and mobile communications 40
Don’t know 17
…people living in other countries
Should intercept, store and analyse internet use and mobile communications 22
Should not intercept, store and analyse internet use and mobile communications 53
Don’t know 25

According to our law the New Zealand Government is forbidden from intercepting or storing communications of all New Zealanders. So our law is supported by the first question.

Thinking about the United States government, do you think the US government should or should not intercept, store and analyse internet use in New Zealand?
Should intercept, store and analyse internet use in New Zealand 13
Should not intercept, store and analyse internet use in New Zealand 75
Don’t know 12

I’d prefer not, but it’s a risk of communicating on a public Internet. However we can’t do anything about what other countries monitor on the Internet – not just the United States government. Why just target one country?

Some people think that any surveillance of internet use should have to be subjected to transparent and independent judicial and parliamentary oversight, whereas others say some surveillance such as that conducted by government intelligence agencies is too sensitive for such oversight.
Which of the following comes closest to your view?
Any surveillance of internet use should have to be subject to transparent and independent oversight 49
In some cases, it is acceptable for internet surveillance to take place without oversight 40
Don’t know 11

That’s a fairly vague question with a split response. It depends on what level of oversight is involved. There’s insufficient oversight of what Google and Facebook and Twitter et al monitor. They have more impact on most individuals than Government surveillance.

Please now assume that New Zealand’s intelligence and security agencies are intercepting and storing the data collected from the use of your internet and mobile phone. Please say whether you would be more likely or less likely to…
Criticise the government on social media, email or private messaging applications
More likely 15
Less likely 7
Make no difference – I would do this anyway 34
Make no difference – I wouldn’t do this anyway 34
Don’t know 10

“Please now assume that New Zealand’s intelligence and security agencies are…“...doing something that is illegal and we have had repeated assurances by the Prime Minister and the Inspector General that they can’t and don’t do.

Please now assume that Amnesty International has used this poll for slanted opposition to spying.

I’d be interested in a poll on spying that was impartial and balanced, and genuinely attempts to determine opinion on spying.

This poll isn’t and doesn’t. It is being used as a campaign tool. It seems to have been designed with that in mind.

Amnesty International have been misleading and dishonest.

If the NSA published a poll in the launch of a campaign to promote spying I’d be just as sceptical.

And why is David Fisher (a senior reporter for the NZ Herald) writing an article based on a campaign associated poll without critical analysis?

The GCSB has been operating under a questionable legal basis for more than three years.The GCSB has been operating under a questionable legal basis for more than three years.

That’s an odd statement with a curious timeframe without anything to support it, especially considering the legal basis was changed half way through the last three years.

The report didn’t mention the fact that the poll is being used to promote an anti-spying campaign.

Fisher has been reporting under a questionable agenda basis.

GCSB – less intelligence now

The new (acting) GCSB head Una Jagose claimed they gather less intelligence than seven years ago, not more.

“As I understand it, today we collect less intelligence than we did seven years ago…there hasn’t been any radical shift upwards as has been suggested in the media.”

Stuff reports in GCSB spies ‘collecting less intelligence’

And Jagose tried to respond to questions on mass collection of data asked in just the second time the GCSB has appeared in public before the Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee.

Much of the committee was dominated by whether the security agencies are undertaking indiscriminate collection of emails, telephone calls and social media messages.

Labour’s Andrew Little tried to get to the bottom of whether the agency carries out mass surveillance or collection, and what is meant by “full-take collection”, as referenced in the Snowden documents.

“It is very difficult to answer the question about what does it mean because it means different things to different people,” Jagose said.

“The connotation that I get from those phrases is some indiscriminate, for no purpose, not necessary collection of information for collection’s sake and we do not do that.

“What we do is lawful and authorised and necessary and proportionate and all of it…subject to independent oversight and you don’t have to take that from me. The public can take that from the systems that are to test that.”

On “full-take”, Jagose opted not to answer directly, citing a “tension” between the bureau’s need for secrecy and the public demand for transparency.

“I will not discuss matters that are or are not operational, details of the bureau, because that is not safe to do so… it is very difficult to say ‘yes we do some things, we don’t do some things.’ That is exactly the sorts of things that people who don’t have our interests at heart – and I don’t mean New Zealanders when I say that – people that are acting against New Zealand’s interests will find that information useful so we keep it close.

“But we don’t keep it from the Inspector General, the Commissioner [of Warrants], this committee.”

Jagose, and Security Intelligence Service director Rebecca Kitteridge, spent time detailing the oversight mechanisms both agencies are subject to.  Jagose says all collection of information by her agency must be done under a warrant.

“The very collection of information is authorised… so it’s not that we collect information and then seek authorisation for particular target issues. Everything we collect is authorised… the speculation in the public is that there is this wild collection of information for no purpose and then we have a look at it. In fact, collection is done for a purpose, and authorised.”

That’s certainly not what some of the more suspicious (or paranoid) anti-spy activists think. Some claim everything is collected and everything is stored by the USA forever.

David Shearer asked if it applied to all foreign intelligence surveillance.

“If we have a foreign intelligence target that we want to intercept, or otherwise access their communications, yes that is warranted,” she said. Inadvertently collected material from New Zealanders is destroyed, she said.

Little and Shearer also wanted details about how information was shared with countries in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance, which includes the US, Britain, Canada and Australia.

“We share training, we share resources but we don’t collect information for them. We collect the information for New Zealand and New Zealand purposes,” Jagose said. “Our Five Eyes partners also need to show why they need to see information, show it that it is lawful that they can look at that information.”

Kitteridge…

…says she takes into consideration factors such as a country’s human rights record when deciding whether to share information.

“There is quite careful consideration given in each case.”

These explanations didn’t satisfy Andrew Little who says that more clarity is required from the Ministers involved.

Norman versus Key, collection versus surveillance

At Question Time in Parliament today Russel Norman quizzed John Key on the differences between mass collection and mass surveillance.

It adds a bit to the ongoing dispute but not much. Key is adamant again that the GCSB is not involved in mass surveillance of New Zealanders as governed by the law. But Key refuses to explain what mass collection might mean.

.

3. Prime Minister—GCSB Surveillance

[Sitting date: 10 March 2015. Volume:703;Page:3. Text is subject to correction.]

3. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader—Green) to the Prime Minister : Does the Prime Minister still stand by his answer that he will resign if the GCSB has conducted mass surveillance of New Zealanders; if so, what is his definition of mass surveillance?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes, and there is no mass surveillance of New Zealanders by the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB). To me, mass surveillance would involve surveillance of an entire population or a substantial part of that.

Dr Russel Norman : With regard to his answer that it would involve a significant proportion of the population, is he aware that there have been 1.6 million visits by New Zealanders to the Pacific from 2009 to the current day, whose private communications have been intercepted by the GCSB, and does this not meet the definition that he just gave of mass surveillance?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I think the member is making assumptions he should not actually make.

Dr Russel Norman : Is mass surveillance different from mass collection; if so, how?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Mass collection is not a term used in the Government Communications Security Bureau Act. It would mean different things to different people. But I think people understand what mass surveillance would mean. Mass surveillance is if you surveil an entire population. That does not happen. It is against the law. The Act makes it quite clear, and in fact it spells out clearly under what circumstances the GCSB can collect information about New Zealanders. It is largely set out in sections 14 and 15B of the Act.

Dr Russel Norman : Which one of the Prime Minister’s statements is correct—his statement this morning: “I don’t even know what you mean by mass collection. I’ve got no clue. It’s not a term I’ve ever seen, nor a term I’ve ever used.”, or his statement in September 2014, when he said: “There is no mass collection—not of New Zealanders.”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The point I was making is that mass collection is not a term used by the GCSB. It is not a term that I use. That was in relation to a particular issue about Speargun, but it is not a term that the GCSB uses.

Mr SPEAKER : Order!

Andrew Little : Will he be straight with New Zealanders—if they travel to the Pacific Islands, will their electronic communications be captured by the GCSB and sent to the National Security Agency, or not?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I am not going to go through the operational details of the way that the GCSB operates, except to say that it operates within the law. The law is extremely clear about under what circumstances the collection of data about a New Zealander could occur. That is in sections 14 and 15B. But I will make this exact point. There is absolutely no—zero—change in the way things happen under this Government from what happened under Helen Clark’s. So if you want to ask these questions, I will give you her number in New York and you can give her a ring as well.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! There is just too much interchange between both front benches.

Dr Russel Norman : Is the Prime Minister aware of the statements by Sir Bruce Ferguson that mass collection and mass surveillance are basically the same things, when Sir Bruce stated on the radio: “it’s the whole method of surveillance these days. It’s … mass collection,”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I am not responsible for the comments that Bruce Ferguson makes. I think the member is actually misrepresenting him. But I go back to the single point. Mass surveillance is not occurring against New Zealanders; it never has. It does not matter how many times the member says it; it is simply not true. The law is very clear about what can occur when it comes to New Zealanders, and the law is subject to oversight by the inspector-general. The inspector-general actually makes their findings public, in terms of what they do, and there are no examples that have been brought to my attention where the GCSB has acted in breach of the law, with the exception of the Kim Dotcom situation. It does not matter how many times Nicky Hager, the anti-American view, and the Green Party want to tell New Zealanders that they are being surveilled en masse, they simply are not.

Dr Russel Norman : Has it not been brought to his attention that the GCSB is engaged in full-scale collection of all the data coming out of Pacific Island nations and that many hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders have visited, or have lived in, those Pacific Island nations during the period that all that data was collected?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : One of the problems when a member wants to rely on stolen information is that they get a very, very warped sense of reality. I would have thought, given that the member was part of the Intelligence and Security Committee for 3 years, he would have a basic understanding of the way the GCSB works. The GCSB has to establish a warrant; a warrant has to have a particular reason. The Government Communications Security Bureau Act makes it completely clear that information cannot be gathered against New Zealanders with possible exceptions that are spelt out in sections 14 and 15B of the Act. The inspector-general has total responsibility, complete opportunity, and insight to review not only the warrants but the actions of the GCSB. Just because someone goes on a holiday somewhere means absolutely nothing, and it will not matter how many times the member says that, he is simply not right. I make the point to the members opposite that nothing has changed under this Government from the previous Government. If they have got complaints or they do not like things, I will give them Helen Clark’s mobile number and they can give her a call.

Dr Russel Norman : If mass collection and mass surveillance are two different things, as the Prime Minister has been claiming, what has changed since the Prime Minister admitted on Campbell Live in August 2013 that, under the law, to go and look at someone’s email is the same as collecting their email?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Firstly, the law has changed, actually, in that time. But—[Interruption] Well, the law has changed. Mass surveillance of New Zealanders does not happen. There are only—

Hon Member : The story’s slipping.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Well, the story is exactly the same as when Helen Clark was Prime Minister. I hate to tell you the bad news. The question has always been posed by members in the Green Party that mass surveillance of New Zealanders occurs. It does not.

Dr Russel Norman : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. It is with regard to the answer. It was a pretty specific question and I do not believe the Prime Minister has addressed it. I was using one of his own quotes.

Mr SPEAKER : Part of the question asked what had changed, and the Prime Minister said that, well, for one thing the law has changed. The question was definitely addressed. [Interruption] Order! It is very difficult for me to hear the answers with the constant barrage that is coming from my left-hand side. If it continues, I will have to ask someone to leave the Chamber.

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).

“Mass surveillance is being pushed on us”

Anthony Robins posted about The mathematics of surveillance saying it can’t work. Obviously it can never be 100% successful.

But Robins also implies that mass surveillance is “being pushed on us” and “that it is being used for unstated goals”.

But there’s not proof of mass surveillance in New Zealand and ikt is illegal.

Mass surveillance cannot accomplish its stated goals. It is likely that many within the security / government system understand this full well. But mass surveillance is being pushed on us anyway. This means of course, that it is being used for unstated goals.

It’s been stated a number of times that we don’t do mass surveillance in New Zealand.

Key releases GCSB documents

Prime Minister John Key has released a series of documents ‘setting the record straight’ over claims the GCSB had spied on New Zealanders.

Mr Key responded quickly to Edward Snowden and Glen Greenwald’s freshest claims – that “if you live in New Zealand, you are being watched” – this afternoon.

“Claims have been made tonight that are simply wrong and that is because they are based on incomplete information.

”There is not, and never has been, a cable access surveillance programme operating in New Zealand.

“There is not, and never has been, mass surveillance of New Zealanders undertaken by the GCSB.

And…

And GCSB spies respond to mass surveillance allegations

The Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) has responded to election week allegations it carries out mass surveillance on New Zealanders, denying its programmes are for anything other than cyber security.

It’s been likened to scanning of everything on your computer with virus protection but on a country scale. It’s also been said that large companies and organisations have been assisted in cyber protection.

Early September this year, somewhere in the world unknown computer hackers set their sights on New Zealand. Boffins in charge of security at Telecom, now called Spark, saw a cyber-attack coming in, a big one.

Its internet and email system went down on the Friday and stayed down for 72 hours.

The experts are still trying to work out exactly what did happen when foreign hackers took control of 120 home computers.

Cyber-attacks happen across the world every hour of every day. It’s these sort of attacks the GCSB says it is trying to prevent – shadowy hackers from all over the world, sending out complex viruses to damage big businesses or Government departments, or even getting inside and taking them over.

My guess is that most people would be happy to have their home computers protected from being taken over.

There is no direct proof that the GCSB is hovering up the metadata of ordinary New Zealanders, but the cable programme 7148 and the approach to Spark are possible indications that last year it was on the cards and it may be again.

Mass surveillance/collection of all metadata of New Zealanders by the GCSB is illegal. There are very specific legal processes involved in allowing targeted surveillance.

Not legal. No proof.

Mass surveillance is not being pushed on us. What is the unstated goal of implying that it is?

Greenwald speech (2) – surveillance versus interference in a country’s election

The second part of Glenn Greenwald’s speech at Kim Dotcom’s “The Moment of Truth” event on Monday night was on the alleged planning of mass surveillance.

The second really extraordinary thing, and this is genuinely really stunning to me, was on the very first day that I began doing interviews about the reporting that we were here to do, the Prime Minister, in the words of the New Zealand Herald, for the very first time admitted that his Government had in fact planned a programme of mass surveillance aimed at New Zealanders.

That appears to be an inaccurate representation of what Key said.

NZ Herald on Saturday in He’s Dotcom’s little henchman: PM attacks journalist’s spy claims

Greenwald said that New Zealand’s spying agencies had been conducting mass surveillance on New Zealanders as part of the Five Eyes arrangement between the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Key said that was wrong. “There is no mass surveillance of New Zealanders by the GCSB and there never has been. Mr Dotcom’s little henchman will be proven to be incorrect because he is incorrect.”

He believed Greenwald was jumping to conclusions based on partial information.

NZ Herald on Sunday in Spying claims force PM to release classified documents

Prime Minister John Key will declassify highly sensitive documents to prove the GCSB pulled the plug on plans to spy on New Zealanders.

Last night Key said he suspected that former Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald’s mass surveillance claims were “part of a conversation” of a surveillance plan that was never formulated.

“I am prepared to declassify documents and release proof in the coming days,” said Key.

“There is no mass surveillance of New Zealanders by the GCSB [Government Communications Security Bureau] and there never has been.

“Mr Dotcom’s little henchman will be proven to be incorrect because he is incorrect.”

Key told 3 News the mass surveillance plan was in response to cyber attacks targeting New Zealand businesses in 2011.

3 News on Saturday in Key hits back at Greenwald’s claims of mass surveillance

The Prime Minister has admitted for the first time that New Zealand spies did look into a form of mass surveillance on Kiwis, but never actually went through with it.

Mr Key has admitted for the first time that yes, New Zealand spies did look into what he calls a “mass protection” option that he concedes could have been seen as “mass surveillance” or “wholesale spying”, but that, and this is the important bit, he says it never actually went ahead.

Mr Key has revealed that after two major cyber-attacks on New Zealand companies, in late 2011 and early 2012, the GCSB stared to look at options with the help of partner agencies like the NSA.

But Mr Key says this idea never got past the business case stage because he deemed it too invasive.

Key said the Government investigated an option of a programme of mass surveillance rather than what Greenwald claims – “his Government had in fact planned a programme of mass surveillance”.

Back to Greenwald’s speech.

He admitted that for the very first time on Saturday after my arrival when he started to have suspicions about what it was I was going to expose.

I’m sure Key considered what Greenwald might try to expose and would have prepared responses long before Greenwald arrived here.

And the reason that’s so stunning to me is if you think about what has happened in this country over the last eighteen months there has been a very serious and sustained debate over surveillance policy, probably as much as if not more than just about any other country on the planet.

It began with the revelations that the Government had illegally spied upon the communications of a legal resident of New Zealand, Kim Dotcom, as well as several dozen other at least citizens and legal residents.

It then was followed by a very intense debate, one media outlet here called it one of the most polarised debates in decades, over a new Internet law that the Key Government insisted on enacting that would vest the Government with greater powers and this all took place within the context of the Snowden revelations, and the global debate about electronic surveillance and Internet freedom and individual privacy that those disclosures provoked.

Key claims he pulled the plug on the GCSB investigating mass surveillance months before the Snowden revelations and the global debate.

The law that was passed was claimed to clarify and tighten up loose legislation to prevent repeats of misinterpretation and potential illegal spying, and it increased oversight of New Zealand’s spy agencies. It’s highly debatable whether it gives the Government greater powers so Greenwald is taking one side of the argument.

And so as this country was immersed in this very serious and sustained debate about surveillance, a debate in which the Prime Minister himself actively participated.

He concealed from the citizenry all of that time the fact that by his very own admission, which is actually inaccurate, but even he admits that he concealed the fact that his own Government over many months was developing a programme of mass surveillance aimed at the citizens of this country.

Greenwald is fudging timing here. The “many months” were up to a year before the debate. 3 News reported:

But Mr Key says this idea never got past the business case stage because he deemed it too invasive.

This was before the Snowden leaks, and Mr Key says the fact he said no is why he has been able to be so resolute that there was no mass spying on Kiwis.

Key says it was an investigation that stopped well before the Snowden leaks and the debate in New Zealand. They weren’t happening concurrently as Greenwald implies.

Greenwald:

What possible justification is there for having concealed that for well over a year, until my arrival compelled him to finally admit it because he knew it was going to get exposed anyway?

I find that genuinely stunning.

It could be justified because by the time of the debate it was one option (presumably the GCSB investigates other options that it never implements) that had been ruled out by the Government.

During the debate Key kept claiming there was no mass surveillance and there would be no mass surveillance. If he said “we thought about it but decided against it” it would have made little or no difference to the outcome of the legislation. If anything it would have further inflamed the debate by raising an issue that was no longer in the frame.

Key presumably chose to talk about it now because he believed Greenwald would make claims about mass surveillance that needed to be addressed and countered.

Did Greenwald think he could come to New Zealand and make claims and accusations during the last week of an election campaign without them being challenged?

Fran O’Sullivan in Key wins – now let’s focus on real issues:

Key has been roundly attacked for declassifying documents to prove his point that the GCSB has not been involved in widespread surveillance of New Zealanders.

Bizarrely, it is somehow seen as perfectly all right for Dotcom and his associates to use stolen National Security Agency files to try to prove the Prime Minister a liar on how his Government has administered national security, but not for Key to declassify New Zealand’s own files to prove he isn’t a liar.

This is utter madness.

Key saw Dotcom coming and released the Cabinet document which backed his statements before the Internet Party visionary’s Moment of Truth fiasco.

He had lined up former NSA analyst Edward Snowden, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and self-styled adversarial journalist Glenn Greenwald to undermine Key’s credibility and use their combined influence to swing voters against National five days before the election.

But Dotcom’s associates failed to produce any clear evidence to show Key had lied when he said the GCSB had not indulged in mass surveillance of New Zealanders.

Nothing concrete was produced to prove New Zealanders have been illegally spied on.

Not only has nothing concrete been produced to back his claims, for a journalist Greenwald seems to have been making misleading assertions, possibly either deliberately or negligently misrepresenting what has happened.

Greenwald is openly anti-surveillance. He accepted an invitation to speak at a meeting organised by a political party that wants to take down the ruling Government. He has voluntarily participated in the democratic process of a country he has no connection with.

Greenwald seems to see a change of Government in New Zealand as a way of reducing surveillance in New Zealand so he is backing a party and a campaign that wants to achieve that.

What’s a bigger issue to Kiwis, surveillance or interference in a country’s democratic process?