GCSB and SIS Directors at Intelligence Committee Meeting
GCSB and SIS Directors at First Public Intelligence and Security Committee Meeting
3 December 2013
By Hamish Cardwell
Tempers flared between the Chris Finlayson and the Green's Russel Norman during the first ever public hearing of New Zealand's agencies in Wellington.
GCSB director Ian Fletcher and SIS director Warren Tucker appeared before the Intelligence and Security Committee comprised of National MP's Chris Finlayson and Tony Ryall, Labour Leader David Cunliffe and the Green Party co-leader.
Mr Finlayson said Mr Norman was a member of the committee and not “Judge Judy” after Mr Fletcher said he could not answer some of Mr Norman's questions.
Mr Norman had asked Mr Fletcher if the data the GCSB had received during its interceptions of Kim Dotcom's communications was data collected “at rest or in transit”.
Mr Fletcher said he could not answer as the issue touched on specific techniques, and was also before the Police Conduct Authority. He also refused to define what the term “in transit” meant.
He said the fact a number of his staff had refused to talk to speak to investigators looking into the illegal spying on Kim Dotcom was a matter for those individuals.
He also refused to say how many New Zealanders were currently being spied on by the GCSB.
Mr Fletcher said he “absolutely” did not think that the NSA was engaged in wholesale collection of New Zealanders' private data but that if information such as emails were held offshore then they would fall under the jurisdiction of the nation who held the data.
There was no reason for there to be any particular targeting of New Zealanders' data.
The GCSB had never offered to hand over New Zealanders' information to 5 Eyes partners, he said.
Under questioning from Mr Cunliffe Mr Fletcher said he could give the assurance that the GCSB did not not undertake any electronic surveillance of New Zealanders' information without a warrant. There had been some “ambiguity” but the legislation amendment earlier in the year meant he could be offer his “unequivocal assurances”
We do not use our security partners to circumvent the legislation, and our partners do not use us to circumvent the legislation, he said.
It is the first time New Zealand's security agencies had appeared in public hearing of this nature. New rules came about following the passing of the Government's GCSB amendment bill.