Friday, November 6, 2015

Security Intelligence Community say 'must finish what we have started'

This week brought us not just one but three reports from the ‘intelligence community’.

First there was the annual report of the Inspector General for Security and Intelligence (IG), Cheryl Gwen. It is pretty damning, and echoes many of the criticisms raised in the State Services 2014 review of the intelligence community, especially regarding the SIS.

The IG's annual report was covered on stuff, but there is a better analysis on No Right Turn. The report is littered with findings like this:
In the course of these inquiries, I identified systemic shortcomings in the procedures followed by the NZSIS. […] The process of preparing and finalising those reports has been more protracted than I would have wished because of the time required for my office and for NZSIS to work through the systemic issues that I had identified.
And it culminates in this conclusion:
As noted above, the Service lacked a compliance framework and policy, audit framework and dedicated staffing throughout this reporting period.[...] For those reasons, I cannot conclude that NZSIS had sound compliance procedures and systems in place.
Note that the innocent sounding word ‘compliance’ means nothing less than the organisation operating within the law. 

As if to counter the impression of an out of control organisation a reader would get from this report, a quasi-internal review by the SIS which had concluded in July was declassified a few days after the release of the IG’s report. It comes to the almost opposite conclusion:
The reviewer did not find any evidence of (nor was given any reason to believe there was) significant non-compliance within NZSIS.
So everything is OK then? Maybe Cheryl Gwen is a bit too critical. Or maybe Rebecca Kitteridge is a lot less concerned about these things now that she is actually responsible for the SIS than she was in 2013 when she reviewed the GCSB. Her report back then read very similar to Gwen‘s report about the SIS does now. Sometimes the best way to shut critics up is to put them in charge.

A lot of the criticism of the SIS in the annual report by the IG is around security vetting. This is when someone applies for a job and has to pass a security clearing, which is done by the SIS. The report states that “the assessment of security clearance candidates is a significant aspect of the NZSIS’s functions. There are, at any given time, some thousands of people who require New Zealand government security clearances in order to retain their employment. Staff responsible for security clearance assessments comprise approximately a quarter of the NZSIS.” The IG investigated this area because of four complaints she had received from people who had either missed out on a job offer or had lost their job as a result of a negative security assessment by the SIS. It is likely that there are a lot more cases out there who didn’t bother complaining or never knew they failed a security clearance.

According to the report, there are three things the SIS has to do in the vetting process: “obtain all available relevant information”, “analyse all of that information” and “disclose all adverse information … to the candidate and give the candidate an opportunity to respond”.

That sounds easy enough, yet the report found that “NZSIS did not always obtain all reasonably available information”, that it “did not generally take steps to investigate possible bias (positive or negative) towards a candidate”, and that it “did not disclose adverse information or inferences to candidates for response.”

I.e. it did none of the three things it was required to do properly, despite a quarter of its staff being tasked with this.

Another area of concern was that of political neutrality, which appears to be a foreign concept at the SIS. This became public in the fallout of the ‘Dirty Politics’ saga, during which the SIS expedited an Official Information Act Request by Cameron Slater, while dragging its feet on similar requests by people who are not friends of the Prime Minister.

This had already been the subject of an inquiry by the IG in November 2014. Back then she found that the “Director and senior staff of the NZSIS […] failed to recognise the gravity of the controversy”, i.e. they didn’t even understand what all the fuzz was about.

The report now states that, as a result:
The position of NZIC Private Secretary has been established in the office of Hon Christopher Finlayson (as Minister in Charge of the NZSIS and Minister Responsible for the GCSB). The Private Secretary has been provided with State Services Commission’s written guidance on political neutrality. In addition, the SSC has provided a mentor to the NZIC Private Secretary.
A politician has been put in charge of teaching SIS staff how to be politically neutral. Surely, nothing can go wrong now.

So staff who have absolutely no awareness of what political neutrality means have for years been in charge of determining people’s security clearance, a process that decides who gets a job in the public service. They probably don’t know what the word nepotism means either.

With all this criticism being aired, someone probably thought it necessary to remind the public why we so desperately need these agencies, and declassified a year-old ‘top secret’ briefing to the incoming PM and the Minister in charge of the SIS and responsible for the GCSB.

This extraordinary document, authored by Howard Broad, Ian Fletcher and Rebecca Kitteridge, is well worth a read – it is revealing on many levels.

It is apparently aimed at a primary school audience and includes insights like “the internet doesn’t work like a telecommunications system, but more like an ocean of data with almost no respect for international borders.”

The briefing starts by listing the “six security problems that you [the PM] should really worry about”:
  • Violent extremism
  • Loss of information and data
  • Hostile intelligence operations in and against NZ
  • Mass arrivals
  • Trans-national organised crime
  • Instability in the South Pacific
No doubt John Key has never before thought about any of that. It then asks “what does the intelligence community actually do?” - also a pretty important thing to know for the Minister in charge of these agencies, so in their 'top secret' brief they make it clear:
  • Help keep Kiwis safe (NB. this is not to be confused with the DOC 'Save Kiwi' campaign)
  • Help protect and grow the economy
  • Provide foreign intelligence and assessment
The briefing is a textbook example of how bureaucrats manipulate politicians. Hidden amidst all the trivial flattery are a few sentences that contain the actual agenda. One of them is this, referring to the agencies’ continuing push for law changes: “we need to finish what we have started, but there is much more to do.”

Another one is this, which explains why we have been hearing so much from the SIS and GCSB in the last few months:
The statutory review of the intelligence agencies, their legislation and the oversight arrangements must commence before 30 June 2015. The Government response to that review should provide a sound basis on which to develop new legislation. We also see this as an opportunity to help build public trust and confidence.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The GCSB’s Moment of Truth

There has been much talk recently about the GCSB’s ‘charm offensive’ and how it is becoming more transparent, and how that is good for democracy. However, what is pitched as transparency and openness is in reality just spin doctoring.

On 11 September, the Privacy Commissioner John Edwards organised a ‘Privacy Forum’ at which GCSB director Una Jagose was going to “describe what GCSB does to deal with cyber threats, including outlining the CORTEX programme.”

At the start of the meeting, two activists of the Stop The Spies coalition (of which OASIS is a part) unfolded a banner reading “This is a Five-Eyes Propaganda Exercise”. That was enough for Jagose and Edwards to cancel the entire event.

It has since become clear just how stage managed the event, and its repeat on 29 September, were.

A response to an Official Information Act request for Una Jagose’s speech and associated correspondence revealed that “the communications are between the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. This is because communications function for the GCSB is managed by the National Security Communications team base in DPMC.” This means that every word we hear or read from the GCSB comes from the same people who write John Key’s speeches.

When asked what the role of the Privacy Commissioner was in providing a forum for an agency whose job it is to invade people’s privacy, Edwards replied on Twitter: “Come along to the next forum, and if you are prepared to behave like adults, and with respect for others, you'll hear.” According to the NZ Herald, he also said “I am not going to have a process of vetting, and I'm not going to have a security to drag people out.”

However, that’s precisely what he did. An email trail between the office of the Privacy Commissioner and the GCSB obtained under a follow up OIA request shows that when the office set out to plan the repeat of Una Jagose’s ‘moment of truth’ on 29 September, it did exactly the opposite of what Edwards had promised. First, the meeting was moved to a place that is not easily accessible and security was hired: “I’ve had a chat to Police about options and their preference is for a venue that is not as open, or as much of a public space, as the National Library. They are willing to provide two officers to be in attendance (we would likely ask them to be plain clothed).”

Next, they made sure no one associated with Stop The Spies would find out about the meeting: “We will notify the majority of previous registrants by email. […] We have gone through the list carefully.”

Now, spin doctors who are worth their money will probably have no problem explaining the apparent contradiction away between ‘no vetting’ and ‘going through the list carefully’, and between ‘no security’ and ‘two plain clothed officers’. John Key has managed to talk his way out of bigger issues. But is that transparency?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Stop the Spies exposes GCSB

On Friday 11th September members of the Stop the Spies coalition held a banner at a GCSB propaganda exercise. Una Jagose, the Acting-Director of the GCSB, was set to give a talk at a forum hosted by the Privacy Commissioner when two members of Stop the Spies stood with a banner before the stage. Una refused to speak with the banner present and as a result, the meeting was closed down.

The next step is to close the GCSB down.

Over the last few years we have learnt of a range of activities that the GCSB has been involved in, including:
  • spying on Pacific countries and everyone residing, passing through or holidaying in that area
  • spying on Vietnam, China, India, Pakistan, South American nations and a range of other countries
  • spying on Bangladesh and sharing that data with the Bangladeshi government and secret security services
  • spying on Tim Groser's rivals for the position of director-general of the WTO. The GCSB operation involved covert surveillance of candidates from Brazil, Costa Rica, Ghana, Jordan, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico and South Korea.
  • Supplying intelligence for drone strikes, and
  • spying on 88 New Zealanders.

The GCSB is part of the Five-Eyes (also known as FVYS), an alliance established by the UKUSA Agreement at the end of WW2. The USA is the leader and the other core members are Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The five countries operate between them a global mass surveillance, data collection and social manipulation programme. They've got the whole world covered; the sun never sets on the Five-Eyes.

But since the raid on Dotcom's home and the release of information by Edward Snowden, more information has become public about the GCSB and the role of the Five-Eyes. There was so much uncovering of nefarious deeds that members of the NZ intelligence community here, including the GCSB, were instructed last year to work on their public image. The talk by Una would have been part of that exercise.

However, Una refused to talk with a simple banner stating the truth being held in the same room. A banner that labelled her talk as a Five-Eye propaganda exercise, a banner that stated the GCSB is the real security threat. Instead the meeting was closed down.

Now we must close down the GCSB.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Widespread Lack of Trust in Security Intelligence Review

There is widespread distrust of NZ´s spy agencies, according to a report published 14th August by The Stop the Spies Coalition. The coalition, which includes the New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties, the Anti-Bases Campaign, OASIS, the Dunedin Free University and the What IF? Campaign, conducted its own People´s Review of the Intelligence Services in a series of public meetings and discussions in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. The report was issued on the closing day of submissions for the official review.

"The People´s Review has solicited a wide range of views from ordinary people in New Zealand about the operations of the intelligence services. The questions raised went far beyond the very narrow frame of reference of the official review, currently being carried out by Michael Cullen and Patsy Reddy," said Thomas Beagle, a spokesperson for Stop the Spies Coalition.

Topics of the submissions included issues of privacy, oversight, the effect of surveillance on society, the lawfulness of the agencies´ activities, NZ´s membership in the 5 Eyes network and whether having the GCSB and the SIS was even desirable and what the alternatives could be.

"Rather than answering the paternalistic and leading questions in the official review submission form, people discussed questions like whose interests the agencies serve, whether we really need them, and whether New Zealand should be in the Five Eyes," said Beagle.

"Further, as the People's Review was being prepared this week, it became abundantly clear that the GCSB and SIS see the official review as an opportunity to put forward their wish-lists asking for more powers. The Prime Minister has already given his blessing to further legislation despite the fact that he won't even hear from this review for another six months."

"Most people are demanding a fundamental change and a curtailing of the agencies' activities, not the ineffectual incremental reforms and increases in agency powers that are likely to be the result of the Cullen/Reddy review."

"Concerns that the GCSB was an outpost of the NSA and that its activities were `linking us to America´s wars´ were common threads of the discussion."

"Where were our intelligence agents when Ernie Abbott was murdered and the Rainbow Warrior blown up?" asked one submitter.

"Rebecca Kitteridge was correct when she said on Monday that without public support, the agencies `might as well pack up.´ The People´s Review clearly shows that that support doesn´t exist. Maybe Ms Kitteridge should consider ordering that moving van," concluded Beagle.

The full review is available for download at:

The Stop the Spies Coalition has three demands:
  • Close down the GCSB - we don´t need to spy on people overseas.
  • Close down the NZSIS - we don´t need to spy on New Zealanders.
  • Withdraw from the Five Eyes - we don´t need to be part of the USA´s global spy network.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

SIS Minister suffers from “Key Memory Syndrome”

The Minister in Charge of the SIS, Chris Finlayson, appears to be suffering from a form of memory loss – showing similar symptoms to his boss, John Key.

In questions at parliament today, 12 August 2015, Finlayson said “The particular deficiency that I would identify is that the Act (NZSIS) was last comprehensively reviewed in 1969 and is expressed in 1969 language.”

It beggars belief that he never heard of or has forgotten about either the 2009 Murdoch Report into 'optimising the structure of the NZ security intelligence community' or the 1976 Powles Report, an infamous white-wash in the '70s to cover-up the Sutch saga.

He should also be reminded of the total of seven amendments to the SIS Act that have been passed into law since 1969 – the most recent one while Finlayson was Minister in Charge of the SIS:
  • New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Amendment Act 2014 (2014 No 73)
  • New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Amendment Act 2011 (2011 No 28)
  • New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Amendment Act 2003 (2003 No 108)
  • New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Amendment Act 1999 (No 2) (1999 No 91)
  • New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Amendment Act 1999 (1999 No 14)
  • New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Amendment Act 1996 (1996 No 48)
  • New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Amendment Act 1977 (1977 No 50)
He should at least remember the 2014 amendment, because it was in the context of that Bill that he called that the Select Committee process “chit chat”.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Spies in PR frenzy

The current Listener (dated 15 August 2015) runs a cover story “Secrets & Spies – The revolution inside our intelligence agencies” by Rod Vaughan, who claims to have been granted “special access” to those agencies. This example of embedded journalism has attracted a scathing commentary by Chris Trotter, to which – on one level – there is not much to add.

Except that Trotter somehow misses the point. He – like Vaughan – falls into the trap set by spy masters. The talk about the alleged ‘revolution’ within the agencies, defined by their directors having attended anti-tour protests at the age of 15 (Kitteridge) or being lesbians (Jagose), is simply a distraction for the flattered journalist. The real messages are buried in the middle of all the nonsense of how the agencies have changed.

Kitteridge is given a half page of unquestioned quotes about how big a threat the Islamic State is for NZ, culminating in the dubious claim that the SIS is neither capable nor allowed to monitor people’s internet browsing behaviour. She is also given space to perpetuate the mantra that “my staff barely have time to read their own emails, let alone so many emails of other people” - the naïve and dangerous myth that ‘full collection’ means that someone actually reads all the stuff that people write. This is followed by Una Jagose lamenting at length the legal restrictions the GCSB is under. The implied message in both cases is that the agencies need more resources and fewer legal restrictions.

Getting these messages printed just before the deadline for public submissions to the ‘Intelligence Review’ was the real reason why Vaughan was granted ‘special access’ to Pipitea House. And these messages just happen to match a lot of the questions in the official submission form.

Also by sheer coincidence, Vaughan was not the only journalist who happened to run a piece on the spy agencies this week. The Dominion Post’s political editor Tracy Watkins came up with the same idea. Her article “Spy boss Rebecca Kitteridge goes on a recruiting drive” (complete with a highly relevant picture of James Bond with sports car) follows the same pattern. After some light-hearted banter about Kitteridge subjecting herself to a job interview at the SIS, Watkins obligingly writes what Kitterridge already spoke into Vaughan’s dictaphone: the Islamic State is coming and we need more resources.

Vaughan may also be disappointed that he wasn’t the first journalist to be given ‘special access’. Back in March 2013, when the GCSB’s illegal spying on 88 people was all over the news, TV3’s Jessica Mutch claimed to be the first reporter to have been inside the GCSB headquarters. Her report back to Q+A host Susan Wood sounded like a small child reporting to its parents from a school trip. She was so much in awe at the swipe card system and the tinted windows that she completely forgot to ask about the spying.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Defining Surveillance

The obfuscation of what and what 'surveillance' is not continues.

In their investigation into whether Detective Inspector Grant Wormald perjured himself during one of Dotcom's court appearances in August 2012, the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) decided that the senior police officer did not perjure himself. The problem was, he just may not have realised what surveillance is.

They found that Wormald was aware the GCSB was assisting in the investigation. Wormald knew that that involved the "interception of the private communications of Mr Dotcom and at least one of his associates" but that was not surveillance in Wormald's mind.

If Wormald perjured himself - it wasn't his fault. According to the IPCA, "'surveillance' was a generic legal definition that did not exist at the time of the Police operation in January 2012." It only became clearer what surveillance was after the enactment of the 2012 Search and Surveillance Act. (NB. Wormald was questioned in August 2012 about the surveillance of Dotcom, nearly four months after the Search and Surveillance Act was enacted in April 2012.)

John Key's definition of surveillance is also hard to pin down.

Back in September 2014, John Key knew that mass collection was mass surveillance. Key told reporters "...we're not collecting wholesale information… We don't have the capability for mass surveillance."

Then in March this year on RadioNZ, Key said, "I don’t even know what you mean by mass collection. I have no clue. It is not a term I have ever used. It is not something that sits in something I see."

At the same time he refused to respond to comments made by ex-director of the GCSB Bruce Ferguson. When revelations from Snowden showed the degree of spying going on in the Pacific by the GCSB, Ferguson admitted on National Radio that what the GCSB did is: "...sort of like whitebaiting and trying to catch one whitebait, you can't do it and within the net you'll get all sorts of other things - it's a mass collection."

More recently John Key appears to acknowledge that the GCSB has the capability to collect large amounts of data. However, it is not surveillance and it is not mass collection.

There seems to be a constant obfuscation of surveillance.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Get Smart - the People's Review of the Intelligence Agencies

The Intelligence Review is a review of New Zealand's intelligence services being conducted by Michael Cullen (ex-politician) and Patsy Reddy (lawyer and board member). It is nothing but a rubberstamp for mass surveillance and the Five-Eyes.

To help compensate for the lack of public consultation, the NZ Council for Civil Liberties is hosting public meetings in Wellington (July 29th) and Auckland (August 6th). They are inviting people to go along to have their say about what should happen to the GCSB, the SIS, and New Zealand’s participation in the Five Eyes spy network.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Quick Look at Some Spying 'gone wrong'

At the annual NZIIP conference on Wednesday 15th July, the Privacy Commissioner said “... we've really only in the last 40 years had public scrutiny of things where things go really wrong, so the average view that people in the public have is of the examples such as Ahmed Zaoui, Aziz Choudry, such as Kim Dotcom, where the agencies have been seen to have been in breach of the law.”

It was good to hear that John Edwards acknowledged those three cases as examples of 'where things really go wrong' in New Zealand's security intelligence. But he needs to do his homework and read some history. The three cases listed may have 'gone really wrong' but there are others. 

New Zealand has a long history of things going wrong and laws been breached. Even the very beginnings of official state intelligence was mired in controversy.

The first official intelligence agency was the Security Intelligence Bureau, it kicked off in 1941 with the arrival of Major Folkes, a British MI-5 agent who only three years earlier had been working in real estate. Folkes was duped by a con-man named Sidney Ross. On release from Waikeria prison, Ross travelled directly to Wellington and spun tales of plotters and saboteurs in Rotorua planning to overthrow the government and kill the prime minister. For three months he was believed before finally been uncovered; he was never charged in relation to the deception and Folkes was fired and sent back to Britain. The tale only came to light when Ross appeared in court at a later date on an unrelated charge of safe-breaking. Ross told the judge the story and it became public.

Peter Fraser, PM at the time, when questioned in the House about the débâcle came out with the classic line “It is not advisable in the public interest to discuss publicly the question of the means adopted to ensure public security.” A statement very similar to that trotted out by modern PMs.

After Folkes left Wellington, the SIB was effectively taken over by the police but was reconstructed in the late 1940s after visits again by the MI-5 and then finally in 1956 the SIS was established. In 1969 the first NZSIS Act was passed.

But even when the SIS became legal there continued to be 'things that really go wrong'. The first director, Brigadier Gilbert, had to pay damages to an Auckland barrister for identifying him as a communist in a 1962 speech entitled 'Communist Cancer in our Society'. The barrister was not a communist but an anti-nuclear activist and member of CND.

Other mishaps include the ousting of an SIS agent at Auckland University in 1966. Godfrey, the agent, investigated numerous students and some staff, and even 'bundled a student into a car' to talk to him. This was the prelude to a law change governing enrolment of intelligence staff at universities.

There were also numerous instances of people losing their jobs – or not getting the jobs they wanted – because of active SIS harassment. People were not allowed entry into the US. Anti-racist and colonialism activists, anti-nuclear, anti-apartheid and anti-war activists were spied on. People who signed petitions were spied on. SIS employees infiltrated schools and universities to keep an eye on 'subversives'. Photos appeared in newspapers of bugging devices found in Communist Party, trade union and Labour Party locations. Several spies came clean and admitted to the spying.

In 1969 the Canterbury Council for Civil Liberties said, “A person can never be sure whether what he (sic) says or thinks in private or on legal occasions may not one day be used against him (sic). Let nobody think that these devices are only used against members of one party or that their use can ever be restricted once it has been admitted as a legitimate method of supervising dangerous thought.”

In the 1970s there was the Bill Sutch incident. Sutch was arrested in 1974; the SIS said they had evidence he had passed documents to a Soviet embassy officer. He was acquitted but died within a year of his arrest, it is commonly assumed his death was a result of the stress.

In 1981 there was the list of 20 ‘subversives’ provided to Rob Muldoon. The SIS were successfully sued for publicising incorrect information.

In the 1990s there was the incident of Aziz Choudry – agents were caught by pure chance in the act of going through private papers at his home. It was the first known time the SIS had publicly been caught breaking and entering. Choudry received an out of court settlement.

In 2002 Ahmed Zaoui was labelled a security risk by the SIS. Zaoui was jailed for two years, after five years the security risk assessment was finally withdrawn and finally in 2014 he was granted citizenship.

In 2004 a SIS agent quit because he believed the SIS was wrong in spying on different Maori organisations and people. Helen Clark, PM at the time, denied the operation existed – saying that she was the minister in charge (of spying) and would have seen the warrants. The allegations made by the ex-agent involved spying that would not have needed warrants.

In 2009 university staff were asked to keep an eye out for weapons of mass destruction. SIS Director Warren Tucker attended a meeting of the NZ Vice-Chancellors’ Committee and said, “We encourage you to raise awareness of the risks of WMD proliferation and illicit science and technology acquisition amongst your staff.”

Also in the 2000s the SIS released many files. Some people found they had been spied on as children, including Maire Leadbeater. Her file dated back to when she was ten years old. Her brother, Keith Locke, has notes on his files dating back to when he was a young teenager. Marie and Keith’s mother also has a detailed file, it includes accounts such as following her as she bought fish and chips.

And this is just a brief history of only the SIS, the GCSB is another story.

Boshier, Roger. (1969). Footsteps Up Your Jumper: The Activities of the New Zealand Security Service. (Perspective 6). Wellington: Farm Rd branch of the NZ Labour Party.

OASIS. (2009/11) Retrieved from

Parker, Michael. (1979) The SIS: The NZ Security Intelligence Service. Dunmore Press: Palmerston North, NZ.

Rolfe, Jim (2003). Threats from abroad: organising for the secret war: Jim Rolfe discusses the evolution of New Zealand's Security Intelligence Service. NZ International Review, 28, no. 3 (May/June 2003): 16-19.

Wharton, Miriam (2012) The Development of Security Intelligence in New Zealand, 1945 – 1957 (Masters thesis, Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand). Retrieved from

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Stop the Spies - Spies Annual Conference

The country's top private and government spooks are holding their annual conference on Wednesday 15th July, and the newly launched Stop the Spies campaign will be there to protest the expansion of surveillance.
5:30pm, Wednesday 15 July 2015
Outside the Rydges Hotel, 75 Featherston St, Wellington

The theme for this year's NZ Institute of Intelligence Professionals (NZIIP) meeting is 'Protecting the Balance: Trust, Confidence, Privacy and Intelligence'.

It is a theme highlighting the current re-branding of surveillance that is been pushed by the government and private intelligence. This need to re-brand is a result of the increasing information about NZ's active role in the Five-Eyes and the global network of surveillance. Revelations have shown that NZ is actively involved in both spying around the world and the manipulation of communities and people for political ends.

The NZIIP may appear to be an independent non-government organisation but it is a core link between both the private and government spy agencies. One of its key founders in 2008 was Warren Tucker, then director of SIS. In the years since, NZIIP conferences have been attended by prime ministers, the SIS, GCSB, NAB, and Defence Intelligence, as well as intelligence professionals from a range of other Agencies and representatives from private industries such as Wynyard and Palantir.

People will be gathering outside the conference at 5.30pm - the intelligence professionals will be meeting for dinner inside and the guest speaker is the Minister for Intelligence Chris Finlayson. Stop the Spies plan to use the opportunity to highlight the links between the many intelligence agencies and the NZ government.

5:30pm, Wednesday 15 July 2015
Outside the Rydges Hotel,
75 Featherston St, Wellington

Further information about Stop The Spies can be found here:

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Intelligence review - a rubberstamp

Headed by Michael Cullen and Patsy Reddy the mandatory review of all security agencies and security legislation was finally announced on Wednesday 13 May.

The review will be a rubberstamp for the government's mass surveillance, the Five-Eyes and the US's endless 'war on terrorism.'

Through recent revelations by Edward Snowden and Nicky Hager it has now been proven that the GCSB is without doubt part of the US's National Security Agency apparatus and New Zealand is an active member of the Five-Eyes. The first few months of 2015 have seen more information coming to light about this country and its role in the Five-Eyes (also known as UKUSA) and the use of the GCSB by the government to ensure political power and control is maintained by them.
Snowden has released documents showing that:
  • the GCSB spies on Pacific countries and everyone residing, passing through or holidaying in that area (leaked 8 March), 
  • the GCSB spies on Vietnam, China, India, Pakistan, South American nations and a range of other countries (leaked 11 March),
  • the GCSB spied on Tim Groser's rivals for the position of director-general of the WTO. The GCSB operation involved covert surveillance of candidates from Brazil, Costa Rica, Ghana, Jordan, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico and South Korea.
  • the GCSB spies on Bangladesh and shares that data with the Bangladeshi government (leaked 16 April), 
  • the GCSB had plans to hack a data link between the Auckland Chinese consulate and the Chinese Visa Office, five minutes down the street (leaked 17 April), and there will be more to come.

John Key has admitted that it is likely that information gathered and supplied by the GCSB to the NSA has played a role in enabling the US military to carry out drone strikes that have killed hundreds of civilians, including children.

The SIS also has a disturbing history. Release of archives in the first decade of this century showed that the SIS spies on political dissidents, children and vulnerable refugee communities. Last year, the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security investigated and upheld allegations that Key's office had used information from the Security Intelligence Service spy agency to gain a political advantage in the 2011 general election.

Both the SIS and the GCSB are a dangerous threat to the security of ordinary people. We don't need a review to tell us what we already know. OASIS calls for the disestablishment of both.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Public Meeting: Digital power & Social control

The State and corporations have ever increasing data about us, while we know less and less about what they are doing.

Come and join the discussion about collection of personal data, how we can resist this shifting form of social control and understand what’s going on.

Tuesday, 12 May, 6pm 
St John's Church Hall  
(corner of Dixon and Willis Streets, Te Aro, Wellington)

  • Thomas Beagle, Tech Liberty
  • Sandra Grey, Senior Lecturer, VUW
  • OASIS on What we know about Five Eyes
and the launch of the What If? Campaign
What If? is a new grassroots education and action campaign working to stop data collection and sharing by the NZ State and private corporations for the purposes of social control and exploitation, and working for community control of information resources for the benefit of all.