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GCSB – knock down a straw man and then tell a huge porkie

8 May 2014

GCSB – knock down a straw man and then tell a huge porkie

The head of the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) Ian Fletcher set up a straw man to knock down and then told an unbelievable porkie when he spoke to a privacy seminar yesterday.

Fletcher emphatically denied the GCSB carries out mass surveillance of New Zealanders and then claimed no other foreign agency was engaged in such surveillance of New Zealanders’ communications.

Fletcher’s straw man is that no-one has ever claimed that the GCSB reads all our emails and texts, listens in to every phone conversation or records every click of the mouse as we surf the net.

What GPJA claims, based on an abundance of evidence from Edward Snowden and others, is that the GCSB assists the US National Security Agency to conduct mass surveillance of New Zealanders. This comes under the GCSB role of “co-operating with our foreign intelligence partners” and there is nothing in the GCSB legislation which makes this illegal.

Our GCSB legislation is deliberately rubbery so it can stretch to cover any requirement from our “security allies” one of whom is the US National Security Agency.

So Fletcher’s big porkie yesterday was that no foreign agency is engaged in mass surveillance of New Zealanders. The NSA certainly is and the GCSB helps hold open the door for them to do it.

Under an umbrella programme called Fairview the NSA plan is to “own the internet”. This involves tapping internet cables such as the Southern Cross cable which links New Zealand with Los Angeles and which carries almost all New Zealanders’ internet traffic. This is surveillance of metadata and actual content for storage and retrospective trawling by the NSA to advance America’s military, diplomatic and commercial objectives.

Note this slide on NSA activity from the Snowden revelations:

NOTE: The Southern Cross cable is the one in the bottom right which links New Zealand to the internet via Los Angeles. Note also that FAA702 in the slide refers to operations under section 702 of the FISA Amendment Act (FAA) of 2008. Section 702 is the one that authorises foreign surveillance programs by the NSA.

Besides the Fairview programme, other programmes used by the NSA to conduct mass surveillance of New Zealanders, with GCSB support, are Squeaky Dolphin, Dishfire, Muscular, Fairview, Prism, X-keyscore, Blarney, Oakstar and Stormbrew.

Squeaky dolphin for example relates to a GCHQ-developed (the UK based Government Communications Headquarters) programme for mass surveillance of social media – Youtube views, Facebook likes, blogsite visits and Twitter.

Ian Fletcher would have us believe he’s never heard of Fairview or Squeaky Dolphin or any of the other programmes. He has. He knows. He’s not telling the truth.

Fletcher’s appearance was clearly orchestrated by the government to try to dampen concern about mass surveillance which the government doesn’t want as an election issue.

GPJA is working on a series of public meetings before then election to expose the GCSB role as the US National Security Agency’s partner in crime against the people of New Zealand.

The GCSB’s assault on our privacy will be an election issue.

John Minto
GPJA Spokesperson

ENDS

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Gordon Campbell:
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