John Minto: GCSB holding doors open while US buddies invade our privacy

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GCSB director Ian Fletcher.
GCSB director Ian Fletcher.

Have you ever heard of squeaky dolphin? What about Dishfire, Muscular or Fairview? Any idea what Prism, X-Keyscore, Blarney, Stormbrew or Thieving Magpie refer to?

None of us knew any of these existed until whistleblower Edward Snowden lifted the lid on mass surveillance programmes conducted by the "Five Eyes" spy network, which includes the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Squeaky dolphin, for example, names the programme which conducts mass surveillance of social media including our YouTube views, Facebook likes, blog site visits and Twitter activity.

The GCSB (Government Communications Security Bureau) is New Zealand's "eye" in the Five Eyes and, two weeks ago, GCSB head Ian Fletcher tried to reassure us that we are not subject to mass surveillance by the GCSB or any other security agency. It was a hopeful but futile attempt to deny the truth.

Last week the latest Snowden documents published in Glenn Greenwald's book No Place To Hide confirmed that our every digital click is captured for storage and retrospective spying by the US National Security Agency and that they are aided and abetted in this by the GCSB.

The GCSB and Prime Minister John Key have repeatedly said the GCSB only spies on really bad people like terrorists and emphatically deny it does mass surveillance of New Zealanders. Fletcher poo-pooed the idea saying he would need at least 100 times the resources he has to keep an eye on all of us all this time.

What is now crystal clear is that the NSA conducts this mass surveillance of New Zealanders with GCSB help in its role "co-operating with our foreign intelligence partners". There is nothing in our GCSB legislation which makes this assistance in mass surveillance illegal.

As Edward Snowden pointed out, New Zealand's GCSB legislation is deliberately rubbery so it can stretch to cover any requirement from the NSA without letting on to New Zealanders its real role which is to hold open the door while NSA thieves raid our digital privacy.

Earlier leaked documents show that under an umbrella programme called Fairview, the NSA plan is to "own the internet", while in last week's releases the NSA says its role is to "sniff it all, know it all, collect it all, process it all, exploit it all and partner it all".

This involves the NSA tapping internet connections such as the Southern Cross cable, which carries most of New Zealand's traffic. This is "full take" (metadata and content) surveillance for storage and later trawling by the NSA.

In fact, last year the Herald reported that the owners of the cable tried to get a commercial benefit from the NSA's mass surveillance of our internet activity.

And for those who say the loss of our privacy is a small price to pay for keeping us safe from terrorists, it's clear that the main purpose of NSA spying is not to keep anyone safe from terrorism but to maintain US global dominance - economically, politically and militarily.

GCSB complicity in spying on the communications of the Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and her aides became public last week but it's clear the NSA conducts routine spying on the UN and its member delegations to gain information to leverage US policy objectives with reluctant countries.

Back in 2003 it was the NSA which spied on United Nations Security Council members as the US tried to get leverage to pressure the non-permanent council members to support a resolution approving George Bush and Tony Blair's illegal invasion of Iraq.

We know this because a courageous whistleblower, Katharine Gun, in the British intelligence service leaked a crucial email in an attempt to prevent a catastrophic war.

And it was the GCSB which rushed in to help the US with illegal surveillance of Kim Dotcom on behalf of the corporate moguls of Hollywood. It's clear also that last year's targeted assassination of New Zealander Daryl Jones in a US drone strike in Yemen was conducted with GCSB input.

We don't need Five Eyes or the GCSB, which in all but name is a US spy operation on our soil. As such it compromises the safety and security of New Zealand.

Our best interests are served by an independent foreign policy rather than one which ties us to US global objectives through the GCSB.

John Minto is vice-president of the Mana Movement.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

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