Hey Ian Fletcher – yes you, the head of the GCSB – haven’t you heard of Squeaky Dolphin? What about Dishfire? Muscular? Fairview? Blarney? Oakstar, Stormbrew?

17
2

On Wednesday the head of the Government Communications and Security Bureau (GCSB) Ian Fletcher spoke at a Wellington seminar organised by the Privacy Commission and emphatically denied the GCSB carries out mass surveillance.

Radio New Zealand reported:

GCSB boss Ian Fletcher has offered everyday New Zealanders an assurance they were not being spied on or listened to by the GCSB but suggests a public discussion needs to take place on greater regulation of the internet.

Talking to reporters outside a Privacy Forum in Wellington today, Mr Fletcher said: “First of all it would be illegal if we were doing that and we don’t act outside the framework of the law, that’s a really important point to start with”.

Mr Fletcher also underlined the point he made in his speech the forum that “the internet is very big and the real interest that Governments have in looking at behaviour on the internet focuses on really bad stuff – people who are actually spying or organising terrorist activity or engaged in really serious organised crime and the scale of the internet is such that resources of Governments get focused on the stuff that really matters rather than behaviour might wish people didn’t know about but doesn’t really amount to the type of threat we’re talking about.”

He also offered an assurance that neither the GCSB or any foreign agency was engaged in the mass collection of metadata or information about New Zealanders’ communications which can be sifted for patterns that might point to areas of interest for authorities.

“We don’t do that stuff. It’s important to keep on saying that.”

In his presentation Fletcher set up a straw person to knock down but then ended up telling a massive porkie in any case. Like his predecessors who all emphatically denied they spied on New Zealanders (until the revelations in the Kim Dotcom case proved they illegally spied on at least 88 of us) Fletcher has joined a long line of pathological liars.

No-one has ever claimed that the GCSB reads all our emails and texts, listens in to all our phone conversations or records every click of the mouse as we surf the net. What I and others have claimed based on an abundance of evidence, courtesy of Edward Snowden and others, is that the GCSB helps hold open the door for 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. So when Fletcher says the GCSB doesn’t conduct mass surveillance of New Zealanders technically he is correct. But they help our “security partners” to do it to us.

The GCSB legislation is deliberately rubbery so it can stretch to cover any requirement from the US National Security Agency.

TDB Recommends NewzEngine.com

Fletcher’s big porkie yesterday was that no foreign agency is engaged in mass surveillance of New Zealanders. Untrue – the NSA is.

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 over 90% of 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.

Check out this screenshot from an NSA presentation courtesy Edward Snowden.

image001

 

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.

The other names in the heading of this blog relate to other NSA and GCHQ (the UK based Government Communications Headquarters) programmes which involve mass surveillance of New Zealanders and others across the globe. Squeaky dolphin for example relates to a GCHQ-developed 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 names heading this blog. He has. He knows. He’s lying.

Fletcher’s appearance was clearly orchestrated by the government to try to dampen concern about mass surveillance which they don’t want as an election issue. After his appearance Privacy Commissioner John Edwards was reported as saying he was pleased by the speech and said he hoped Fletcher’s comments might dispel what he called “conspiracies and misinformation”.

Why on earth do we bother with a Privacy Commissioner who is an apologist for mass surveillance of New Zealanders?

Fletcher’s appearance yesterday confirmed the GCSB has to be closed, New Zealand has to come out of the five eyes spy network and the Privacy Commissioner needs to engage his brain.

17 COMMENTS

  1. Plausible deniability…reminds me of a story shared with me about the NZSAS operating in other nations. Technically, if asked about NZSAS ops, the PM could deny any involvement as they were ‘seconded’ to the British SAS therefore not operating as NZSAS. Just semantics. Of course things occasionally fall apart when members are killed in nations and the media got hold of the story e.g. remember the NZSAS member that was killed on active duty (1995) in Zimbabwe by of all things an elephants – but was alongside UK SAS? It is all just smoke and mirrors…semantics…weasel words!!!

  2. Mr Fletcher stated categorically that mass data is not being passed on to third parties.

    • Gosman says:
      May 8, 2014 at 8:27 am

      Mr Fletcher stated categorically that mass data is not being passed on to third parties.

      Did you miss John Minto’s comment, or are you wilfully ignoring it to suit yourself?

      No-one has ever claimed that the GCSB reads all our emails and texts, listens in to all our phone conversations or records every click of the mouse as we surf the net. What I and others have claimed based on an abundance of evidence, courtesy of Edward Snowden and others, is that the GCSB helps hold open the door for 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. So when Fletcher says the GCSB doesn’t conduct mass surveillance of New Zealanders technically he is correct. But they help our “security partners” to do it to us.

      Explaining it to Gosman in simple terms; the GCSB does not have to spy on us. They get US spies to do it. Then the US gives it to the GCSB. All ok by law. (Note, Gosman, I tried using mostly monosyllabic words for ease of comprehension for you.)

  3. Certainly Fletcher’s professions of being a law-abiding agency were exposed as a lie by the massive illegal surveillance of Dotcom. Under a scrupulous government the responsible agency would have been punished severely – sackings, reductions in staff, pay and mandate. That Fletcher is still there proves no changes of substance were made.

    The SIS is the internal agency to monitor New Zealanders – the GCSB is to look outward, and having exceeded its mandate it should be dismantled and rebuilt with a core staff who can be trusted to respect the division of powers. Fletcher, being Key’s creature, will obviously have to go with the outgoing government in any case.

    • Fletcher wasn’t the head of the GCSB when they were illegally spying on DotCom.

      It was Sir Jerry Mateparae, who immediately after the raid and subsequent outrage was promoted to Governor-General.
      Personally, I don’t think his promotion was a coincidence.

      I can’t think of anyone from any party who would be willing to demand that the Queens representative appear before a Commission of Inquiry.

  4. Ian Fletcher Mmmm… no the last time I looked your tax payer funded department didn’t care whether the spying they did was illegal or not. If the spys are not going to get caught because they aren’t accountable to the public then they do what ever they like. The PM then he allows them to do what they do. (By the way has anyone looked into JK’s $1million+ security over run he has? Just where is that money going to? Why does he need the extra security?).
    If it weren’t for people like Snowden and Kim.Com, we the public would be none the wiser. And has anyone also thought to ask about the activities of the police special squad? SIS? the undercover cops? These people who are in undercover positions, who act illegally – because they can – and get away with abhorrent practices because they do. And then they all lie about it and say they don’t. Practice sounds familiar? Some other prominent person/people we know have been acting like this lately?

  5. John Key’s government passed legislation last year which now legalises GCSB spying on New Zealanders, albeit with a “warrant” and with Prime Ministerial “over-sight”. Key says we now have legal protection to protect our privacy.

    Of course, that did not stop the GCSB from breaking the old law, and spying on eightyeight New Zealanders. That’s despite the old law being quite specific in it’s prohibition on domestic spying;

    Section 14 of the original ;Government Communications Security Bureau Act 2003 was quite specific

    “Neither the Director, nor an employee of the Bureau, nor a person acting on behalf of the Bureau may authorise or take any action for the purpose of intercepting the communications of a person (not being a foreign organisation or a foreign person) who is a New Zealand citizen or a permanent resident.”

    Which made a mockery of John Key’s mis-leading assertion on ; 9 April last year

    “In addition, the Act governing the GCSB is not fit for purpose and probably never has been. It was not until this review was undertaken that the extent of this inadequacy was known…”

    Law-breaking and lies – the hallmark of Key’s behaviour on this issue.

    But the supreme irony here?

    John Key has allowed the GCSB to spy on New Zealanders or to receive data on New Zealanders gathered by overseas spy agencies.

    But health-service providers are not allowed to share information with family members, where necessary, because of “privacy concerns”.

    Monty Python couldn’t have scripted this farce any better.

  6. Mr Fletcher also underlined the point he made in his speech the forum that “the internet is very big”

    The internet is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mindbogglingly big it is. I mean you may think its a long way down the road to the chemist, but thats just peanuts to the internet.

    with apologies to Douglas Adams
    also apologies to John Minto, because this is a serious issue and he has made very good points in this post, but I’ve had that quote in my head since I heard Mr Fletcher yesterday 🙂

  7. Bloody excellent article John, I really enjoyed reading that…looking forward to seeing them all duck for cover when more info is released !

  8. Ian Fletcher telling us that GCSB does not spy on NZers and operates within the law…. when we all know they’ve been caught illegally spying on 88 NZers and the government made a new law to make it retrospectively okay…

    it sounds EXACTLY like Orwellian “double speak”.

    welcome to 1984!

    • According to Australia media, before the scandal broke: “for the past 2 years the US have been testing their latest spy technology on NZ.”

      It was the entire nation that was being spied apon – not just the 88, as NZ was the perfect population testing base.

      Is there a family connection between this Ian Fletcher, and the Fletcher corporation that was given the task of distributing the rebuild of CHCH funds?

      Opinion and belief.

    • More accurate to say at least 88 New Zealanders spied on, as the soutce is one report, and we don’t know how exhaustive it was, or how forth coming GCSB staff were.

Comments are closed.