It’s time to submit against spying

Submissions close on the spying law this Thursday.

John Key may be comfortable with many things but we are not comfortable; we are not comfortable with, among many things, John Key’s pandering to the USA’s spymasters, and the wholesale spying on New Zealanders, either already happening or intended to, and assisted by the law changes in front of Parliament now; the GCSB and Telco Interception Bills.

Peter Dunne has given us a political drama, but also gave New Zealand an early insight into some of the recent targeted illegal spying on New Zealanders, with the leaked Kitteridge  report showing 88 had been identified as spied on by the GCSB. What Dunne didn’t do was show how the Government Communications and Security Bureau’s (GCSB) involvement with the Echelon system of the USA, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, can feed into and out of the US’s National Security Agency(NSA). The NSA designed the Echelon global surveillance system that includes the New Zealand Waihopai spy base near Blenheim.

According to the Guardian on Friday, a top secret document shows that the NSA has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple, Yahoo, and other US internet giants. These same systems are used by New Zealanders massively on a daily basis, and the NSA has been filtering those same systems.

The Guardian stated that the document says that NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called Prism, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats.

In New Zealand, we have a Prime Minister, John Key who selects his mate as spy chief, and is set on legitimising his spy agencies, and his USA mates total telecommunications surveillance on us. Fiddling about on legislated oversight as the latest spying Bills get rushed through Parliament will not stop wholesale spying on everyone that uses the social media technologies and programs of the day, or in fact regular telephone calls when it suits. The intended legislation is broad, but the Guardian and possibly Peter Dunne, have shown us that the GCSB can and will spy on every New Zealander at whim.

NZ through the GCSB is meant to have been getting info from the NSA from it’s Echelon relationship and the Waihopai system. What we don’t know is how much, and if it includes this new discovered Prism arrangement.

The USA controlled Waihopai spy base must be closed, and New Zealand’s links with the United States NSA’s super surveillance system stopped.

Submissions are now open on the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Bill and the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill. Submissions close 5pm, Thursday 13 June.

The Green Party is determined to stop our intelligence agencies spying on legitimate, peaceful, political dissenters.

We support an inquiry as to whether the SIS should be abolished and whether responsibility for detecting politically motivated crime be returned to the Police.

New Zealand should close the Waihopai spy base, which operates in the interests of other countries rather than our own.

To enable better oversight, a regular parliamentary select committee should replace the government-dominated Intelligence and Security Committee, and the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security should become an Officer of Parliament.

37 Comments Posted

  1. Samiam, when someone committs a crime and is caught they are finger printed and their prints go into a police data base. This is common knowledge. Its wrong that they are collecting infomation from people who have not committed any crimes and storing it in data bases that can be accessed by ??? god knows who? Maybe the worlds governments should try harder to keep THEIR noses clean and clean up their act instead of spying and invading the privacy of their own citizens??

  2. Just something to think about. Last week i rang Inland Revenue and had to give my IRD number by speaking it. Some thing to do with voice recognition for security purposes? Anyway…..with the whole Prism story coming out its really got me thinking about what other info they are collecting on us. Voice recognition for security purposes??? It’s just got me wondering.

  3. The Green Party is determined to stop our intelligence agencies spying on legitimate, peaceful, political dissenters.

    I’m naive enough to believe that is both desirable and possible.

    The realist in me says that the guys in trenchcoats can read anything they want to, bill or no bill.

    Be great if some party with a chance of forming a government said they would overhaul this whole mess, but then, I’m a dreamer too…

  4. Dave – I’m aware that the SIS is a spy agency but can see how my sloppy phrasing might have made it seem otherwise.

    My intent was to say that creating this hypothetical list, people are being compartmentalised based on their political beliefs. The creation of this list also effectively approves the criminalisation, without evidence, of all those not on the list. It is the very definition of police state logic.

    The lessons of the 20th century would tell us that the first step undertaken by authoritarian regimes is to make lists. Today’s officially sanctioned dissidents – on the list for their own safety of course, because those who are innocent have nothing to hide – are tomorrows ‘Enemies of the State’, conveniently data-based to be harassed into silence or “disappeared” in the black of night all in the name of public safety, counter insurgency, treason, preventing economic sabotage….name your trumped up crime.

    I am well aware of what is being stood for – the presumption of innocence, free association and free speech. All critical for a functioning democracy and the rule of law and all destroyed under your proposal.

  5. Dave, I think Gregor W has answered your question well. So my reply is what he said plus, you seem to have absolute faith that the spy agencies would keep their word and not spy on those on the ‘white list’. You completely ignore the fact that some serious moral issues can only be successfully challenged by civil disobedience which may be considered unlawful by the powers that be. Civil rights protesters, suffragettes and those brave people who climb onto arctic oil rigs, you would brand them all criminals and see no problem with denying them their right to privacy. When someone has ‘done the time’ for a crime, you can’t keep punishing them in a civil society. I can’t believe I’m having to explain this to you, do you seriously not understand the difference between morals, ethics and laws? It is unethical and immoral for this government to encourage more fossil fuel exploitation. They say it is illegal for me to go within half a km of an oil rig. Its about right and wrong Dave, not what Simon Bridges says is unlawful. Your idea assumes all protesters decide in advance to become protesters. Has it not occured to you that people might want to spontaneously protest and not wait for their clearance? In your system only those who ask to be excused from surveillance (and meet your standards) won’t be spied on, but my mum, my aunties, my kids could be. If you don’t get why your idea is absurd, you should probably apply for a job with the SIS or GCSB, you are probably just the type of person they are looking for.

  6. Gregor
    The SIS is a spy agency! (lol)

    Funny that GCSB and the SIS breaking the law by not ensuring the police had obtained the necessary warrant for the surveilance they undertook is bad, and so-called legitimate, peaceful, political dissenters who break the law is good.

    Mate. You need to establish what it is that’s being stoood for here. Is it the rule of law or the rule of party preference. Personally, I prefer the rule of law, with one set of laws for all, so yes, I would prosecute the failure of GCSB, the Police and the SIS to obtain the necessary warrants to the same extent of the law as I would someone committing an offence while undertaing a political protest.

  7. yet no one else has offered an alternative.

    Not really Dave.

    The alternative is that the spy agencies stay in their box and focus on external threats and let the Police / SIS deal with domestic ones.

    This is the status quo and has worked quite well until those agencies started trying to be smart bastards and break the law because they thought they could get away with it.

    Quite simply, a peaceful dissenter does not have to establish their innocence or legitimacy. That is the basis of our legal system; innocence presumed until guilt is proven.

    To create this ‘white-list’ turns that premise on its head and enacts a de facto police state, replete with though crime.

  8. The more spying the better I say. Help yourself to my correspondence, it’s all a big yawn really. The more we all know about what each other are doing the better. Our modern society has a real phobia re privacy issues.
    Only the bad guys have something to fear.
    The real issue is if it’s the ‘bad guys’ who are gathering the information. To me, that’s where the focus of these debated should be. Robust scrutiny of the watchers, be they Kiwi, US or China…Big Brother must be accountable back to the people.

  9. Viv
    the original issue raised the concept of “legitimate, peaceful, political dissenters” being left to get on with whatever they wanted to get on with. I have no problem with that. So YOU tell me, how does a peaceful political dissenter establish their legitimacy?

    I’m quite happy with the status quo, but the proposal here is to change it – I just made a suggestion as to how that might be done, and as yet no one else has ofered an alternative. Asking for something and not having a means to implement it, just criticism of the staus quo measured against it, does not move anything forward, it’s just a complaint without a solution.

  10. @Garrit: the telco bill makes it illegal for anyone to sell you a vpn service that the gcsb doesn’t get an automatic backdoor to. The wording is vague enough that, as far as I can tell, selling you a router capable of forming a vpn connection would technically be illegal. The wording they’ve used walks right up to the line that says “all encryption whatsoever is illegal” and urinates and defecates all over it, while laughing manically.

  11. When the Boston bombing fiasco is examined, the brothers involved had been tagged by servalence systems in different circumstances but nothing happened to stop the bombings. It seems the systems are so overloaded with data that you need some focus to actually use that data. An event like the bombing might create that focus but so would political, personal or economic motive.

    In governments that are totally committed to saving taxes it seems to be a total waste of taxpayers money to have all these systems. Of course, software companies like Microsoft have something to gain by selling the platforms that make it all work. Thus we see legislation containing an ability to direct less compliant platforms can be banned?

  12. Kerry,

    Easily overcome by using common words that any organisation has verbally told its members equals something completely different.

    Cockey rhyme comes to mind.

    So a simple message as I posted above, chickens mean aircraft, eggs are supplies to be dropped; and the message clearly indicated to the recipient that they can expect no supply drops tomorrow as the aircraft are used operationally elsewhere.

    You would need an army of people scanning every message for hidden meanings.

    Solve the unemployment problem ;-).

  13. I understand that the real terrorists use human carrier pigeons.

    Leaving the spooks nothing to do, but spy on those who want to change their rulers by ethical and peaceful means.

  14. Gerrit. Of course the next step is the Government makes it illegal to send anything in code without supplying them with the key.

    This was the case in many countries in the days of radio telegraphy.
    Any shipping company which used “commercial” code had to supply the decryption keys to their Government.

    I think a similar rule applies in the USA today.

  15. It is bad enough the police are now allowed to spy in our living rooms with almost no justification.

    Allowing a bunch of unaccountable and unsupervised, except by an equally unaccountable and unsupervised politician “intelligence” agents to breach everyone’s privacy is the type of thing that repressive totalitarian States do.

    It is National that are following the North Koreans.

  16. Kerry,

    That is what I thought. I would imagine that anyone that has “ulterior” motives to hide from big brother simply has to instigate a coding system that fools the word recognition software collating every email and phone call in the world.

    You could end up with similar coded messages used from the UK to occupied territories during WW2.

    Something like “The chickens have flown the coup tonight and the eggs will not be collected tomorrow.”

    Work recognition software would have fun trying to decipher those sort of message!!!

    Problem is that no matter what system is put into place it only catches the honest people. Those who dont want their messages intercepted will code it so that they wont be. Or deliver their messages by courier.

    Either human or pidgeon!!!

  17. In the 80’s my job was threatened, after what could only have been someone reading my private mail.

    Which showed the scary lengths the first ACT government, 1984 Labour, were prepared to go to screw down even minor dissent. Even from someone who had almost no political influence whatsoever.

    Fortunately for me, my immediate employer at the time was a US company, whose installation manager disagreed with my politics, but at the same time was a believer in free speech.

    Present day National with their fascist inclinations are even more worrying.

    The effects on freedom of protest of recent police actions are bad enough. Assaulting and arresting people for totally legal demonstrations.
    Allowing wannabe 007’s, who have read too many Tom Clancy novels, free reign to monitor and spy on dissenters is going to be even more chilling.

    Of course the intention is to make it difficult and personally costly to disagree with the Government

  18. The short answer is, No.

    If you have any connection at all to an outside line.

    Even a total internal network can be snooped, but they would have to be a lot more determined.

    Any movement of electrons can be monitored.

    Then of course there are lip readers and microphones, if you go the traditional communication route.

  19. Quick technical question. Are emails and file sharing INSIDE a VPN, secure from the state snoops?

  20. Innocence is PRESUMED, not proved in the justice system.

    Spying is warranted when a reason emerges for it.

    What we have instead is a fishing expedition that amounts to bottom-trawling. EVERYTHING that is loose comes up and anything that isn’t fastened down is regarded as loose.

    I have, for the past decade, ASSUMED that the NSA has hooks into Google. I don’t have any particular expectation of privacy, if I send an e-mail I EXPECT that it is public unless I encrypt it using my own keys

    Those hooks may be legal or illegal and possibly unknown to google, and that is simply an implication of the size of the concentrated collection of data and the nature of the people who are interested in sifting through it.

    So I have a fundamental issue with your proposal that I “register” as a law-abiding citizen. I am, but the proposition turns the presumption of innocence on its head and that is not I think, an acceptal attitude to/for it.

  21. Dave – the alternative to setting up a list of authorised dissenters monitored by a domestic spy agency – an absurd totalitarian idea by the way – is to just let the other agency charged with protecting the public do their job.

    They’re called the Police.

    Note: they’re already allowed to spy on NZers under certain conditions (i.e. if they believe there is conspiracy to commit a crime).

  22. If you’re gonna leak, do it openly and tell the truth when asked, especially in the House.
    That’s (perhaps) what Russel thinks. Personally, if Peter Dunne was stumbling, I’d give him a coup-de-grace shove. He’s worked against the Greens for sooooooooo long, and been a real tosser in the way he went about it. That said, Peters has been no better.

  23. Funny to see Russell Norman attacking Peter Dunne over the leak of the report. I thought the greens were against this spying yet they are trying to attack John Key for the report being leaked. The Greens Co Leader has come out in favour of the government spy agency.

  24. So Dave, in your plan, everyone can be spied on unless they take themselves off to the security agencies and ask to be investigated. I doubt I’m the only one who thinks it’s ridiculous. Your scouting analogy does not hold up. Checking if you have a previous conviction for offences against children before you are given responsibility for other peoples kids is not the same as saying it is ok for the GCSB to spy on anyone with a previous conviction or anyone who hasn’t got round to asking for an exemption. What sort of country do you want to live in? A police state?

  25. Sorry Viv, but I’m not ready to bin that yet.

    To be a Scout Leader a man has to be vetted to ensure they don’t have a criminal record involving children, that is still assuming people are guilty unless they present themselves for clearance. Seems right to me, when I was involved in Scouting I only wanted legitimate, peaceful, child liking adults working with the kids under my oversight.

    In this instance, Steffan has suggested that legitimate, peaceful, political dissenters be allowed their dissent without oversight. Fine by me, as long as they don’t have a record of illegal protesting I have no problem with it. If they do have such a criminal record then in my book they are not legitimate or peaceful and have, in the past, interfered with others going about their business to the extent that they were prosecuted.

    I do not believe we should give carte-blanche to criminals to re-offend, and believe they should be monitored to protect society from their criminal behaviour, be they child molesters, murderers, burglars or protesters. That’s called society protecting itself from known anti-social behaviour.

  26. Dave your idea of registering dissenters got thumbs down because it is ridiculous! Approved security veted protestors, that is still assuming people are guilty (and according to you okay to be spied on) unless they present themselves for clearance by the spy agencies. I can’t believe you are serious. Why should people with previous convictions still be able to be spied on? It appears you think someone like Lucy Lawless would be a valid subject for surveillance because she has a conviction from a previous protest, NO WAY! Bin that idea Dave.

  27. So Peter Dunne is alleged to have leaked the report, then Labour shifts its focus to Dunne by asking the Privileges Committee to investigate him. Letting the government off the hook, I guess Labour must support the National Government over the GCSB.

  28. Hmmmmmm m
    so there are only thumbs down for my approach to ensuring intelligence agencies stop spying on legitimate, peaceful, political dissenters.
    Is it the fact that they have to prove they’re legitimate that puts people off, or the fact that they think it’s OK for people who are not legitimate to spy?

  29. It is easy, go to the Guardian on Sunday site and listen and watch
    Edward Snowden the whistle blower speaking from Hong Kong. It is like seeing science fiction tales come true.

  30. The “Five Eyes” surveillance/spy system is a construct of the Cold War – manufactured by the US, using fear of Boshevism to persuade their citizens to allow the President and Congress to spend billions on armaments production and sale of same to other nations. An inportant part of their economy.Russia was not in a position to be a threat to the world post WW2. More than any other country they they had more destruction of their lands and loss of life of all the allied countries – 28 million Russians perished in WW2. Churchill of course was pleased to promote the Cold War – always the warrior politician from playing with his toy soldiers as a child to his promotion of wars – as the Anzacs learnt to their horror in the role Churchill played in the disastrous Dardenelle campaign. The Cold war is over! Now we have countries, led by the USA who are determined to control the world’s resources, hegomonic world power, One World Government and the present War OF Terror is but a means to that ambition. The question NZers have to ask themselves – do we want to be a part of these killing fields, wars that are based on lies, the millions mounting up of dead, innocent men, women, children, none of whom are any threat to anyone? The GCSB and its Waihopai Domes make us all guilty by association of these immoral, illegal, evil wars. Shut it down. If we must have a foreign policy let it not go beyond Trade – it beats war.

  31. Could you elaborate on “the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security should become an Officer of Parliament”? What practical impact would this have and would this achieve?

    It sounds like a good idea but not being familiar with either the role or Parliament’s structure, I have no way to tell.


  32. So here’s a thought

    to make sure that The Green Party’s determination to

    stop our intelligence agencies spying on legitimate, peaceful, political dissenters.

    we should have everyone who claims the right to be a legitimate, peaceful, political dissenter register with the intelligence agencies, have their backgrounds researched and, if they are what they claim and have no criminal convictions, they should be added to a list of free-from-monitoring dissenters. Should they be convicted of law breaking, or be reported by an independent citizen as inciting something illegal, that freedom from monitoring should be subject to a re-vetting by the intelligece agencies

    Steffan, I think this approach would meet all your needs, without exposing the country to anything untoward. What do you think?

    (PS. I don’t think we should dismantle our Security service, it does a vauable job. Also GCSB was wrong for monitoring citizens/residents without the appropriate authority, and the police were wrong to not acquire the appropriate authority. In most of the cases identified, it was the administrivia that went wrong more than the intent of the security services.

  33. all those spying here and overseas…Did they ever stop real crime and real terrorism? hardly! (lots of hindsight wisdom though)
    Govt (esp. Key govt.) just used them as an excuse to abuse its power and spy on whomever they wish (whoever are against them)…
    If all failed, when we have new govt, let’s spy on all ex-govt officials /National party MPs, donky the jerk…

    then they will learn why it’s a bad idea to spy on own people…

  34. I don’t know to much about this subject, but I do think you can’t take the Guardians word as the written gospel truth. When you get outright denials from organisations like Google from Larry Page, it brings statements like direct access to Googles system by NSA into doubt.

    I have not read the article by the Guardian and would like to, if it’s possible. To do so I will have to search for it, which takes up time. Please provide references to article you’re quoting at the bottom of the press release, to save me the time required to find them. It’s also good practice to do this anyway.

    I’m not a conspiracy nut, I’m someone who doesn’t trust our governments to ever get it right when it comes to our civil rights.

    Please, though, keep up the good work Steffan. I appreciate what you’re trying to do.

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