#snowdenNZ / How foreign spies access GCSB's South Pacific intelligence

By Nicky Hager, Ryan Gallagher

Edward Snowden claims John Key hasn't told the truth on mass surveillance
Edward Snowden claims John Key hasn't told the truth on mass surveillance

In September last year, Edward Snowden said he had seen large quantities of metadata from New Zealanders' communications while working in the NSA's regional headquarters in Hawaii.

He was presumably referring to New Zealanders' communications intercepted during the Asia-Pacific regional monitoring conducted at Waihopai and other allied bases.

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The Snowden documents show how foreign intelligence staff follow a step-by-step process to access the GCSB's South Pacific intelligence, including the metadata and communications of New Zealanders living, holidaying and interacting in that region.

A British agency guide shows that there are two databases on "Ironsand" (Waihopai)-intercepted communications they can access. "To query the data on these sites," the guide says, "you must first have a briefing on NZSID7, the law that governs what the GCSB can and can't do." The foreign staff were instructed to read a written briefing and then, before accessing the New Zealand intelligence, take an online test on the GCSB rules.

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Once they had completed the "multi-choice, open-book" test, the foreign intelligence analysts were told to "Click 'Order the Products and Services catalogue'." They typed "xkeyscore" and "Search" and then "NZXkeyscore". The guide said, "Once you have filed the required information, click Add to Cart" and "Click Submit request".

The NZSID7 (New Zealand Signals Intelligence Directive 7) contains the rules for when the other Five Eyes agencies can look at intelligence about New Zealanders. For all other countries - friend or foe - there is unrestricted spying and unrestricted access provided to the Five Eyes spies.

- NZ Herald

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