Saturday, July 27, 2013

Nothing to hide - everything to fear

Public meeting: Looking at surveillance beyond the GCSB Bill

Nothing to Hide ... Everything to Fear is the title of a public meeting being hosted by OASIS. The GCSB Bill is just one of the latest in a line of law changes that are expanding and normalising state surveillance.

In recent years there have been many legal changes attacking our rights in the name of security, these include the Terrorism Suppression Act, Maritime Security Act, Border Security, Aviation Security Act, Telecommunications Interception Capability Act, the SIS Act, the Police Act, the Search and Surveillance Act and now back to round two of the GCSB Act and the Telecommunications Interception Capability Act.

All these laws bring in more surveillance and in NZ that is primarily the role of the police, the SIS and the GCSB. Over the years every one of these state agencies has acted outside of their briefs. Every time their illegal activities become public knowledge, there are changes in the law to legalise their activities and / or to expand their powers. What is happening with the GCSB Bill is a case in point.

It is time to say enough is enough – for one of the greatest threats to our security is actually ever-increasing invasion of our privacy. Surveillance is the threat.

  • Helen Kelly (CTU)
  • Thomas Beagle (Tech Liberty)
  • Kate Dewes (Peace Campaigner)
Monday, 5 August, 6pm
St John’s Hall,  Willis St/Dixon St

Monday, July 22, 2013

Media Release: Business as usual for spooks

Organising Against State Intelligence and Surveillance (OASIS)
22 July 2013

The country’s top spooks will be meeting in Wellington tomorrow (July 23) for the annual conference of the NZ Institute of Intelligence Professionals (NZIIP).

Every day, more details about large scale spying by the NSA, the GCHQ and other agencies is being revealed.

“The spy industry seems to be un-fazed by the Snowden leaks and is carrying on with business as usual,” OASIS spokesperson Anna Thorby said.

“And why wouldn’t they? The NZ government is giving them a clear message of more business to come by pushing through a Bill that would legalise the GCSB’s spying on New Zealanders.”

“The links between the government and the private spying industry are clear. Palantir, the main sponsor of the conference, is advertising for engineers to be ‘embedded’ with the New Zealand government. They are already supplying software for both the NSA and the New Zealand army.

“SIS director Warren Tucker has been the patron for the NZIIP since its start in 2008 and is about to become a ‘fellow’ of the institute.”

At the institute’s inaugural meeting, then prime minister Helen Clark gave a speech in which she indicated that she already knew about the NSA and GCHQ’s blanket collection of communication.

Clark said: “For some states […] the protective imperative has led to the balance being struck in favour of providing their intelligence organizations with access to large data sets.”

The title of this year’s conference is “Exploring Behavioural Drivers” and speakers will focus on how to use those large data sets to predict people’s behaviour.

“While the state is saying that this is used to detect terrorist plans, it can equally be used to suppress any form of political dissent and to influence debate,” Ms Thorby said.

“In the light of recent events highlighting the exposure of both the NSA and GCSB’s illegal surveillance, it should not be business as usual for the spies. There should be no more strengthening of ties between the corporate and state spies. Rather it is time to step back and re-evalaute the whole UKUSA Agreement. NZ should pull out of it now.”


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Nationwide protests against GCSB Bill

On Saturday, July 27 at 2pm there will be protests and demonstrations against the GCSB bill around the country.

The Wellington demo will start at the bucket fountain on Cuba Mall and go to parliament. Protests in other cities are:

Auckland: 2pm Aotea Square
Hamilton: 2pm Garden Place
Napier: 2pm Memorial Square
Nelson: 2pm Halifax Street
Christchurch: 2pm Bridge of Remembrance
Dunedin: 2pm Octagon

The protests are organised by a group called 'Stop the GCSB Bill'. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Submissions on GCSB Bill

With the Security and Intelligence Committee dragging its heels over publishing the submissions on the GCSB Bill, Fairfax has put up a document with all 124 submisssions. Click here to read.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Spy conference in Wellington

On July 23, the ‘NZ Institute of Intelligence Professionals’ will hold its annual conference with the title “Exploring Behavioural Drivers” in the James Cook Hotel in Wellington. The following article looks at how exploring behavioural patterns and the recently revealed mass surveillance of metadata by the NSA and others are related.

Read more

Saturday, July 6, 2013

'Neither confirm nor deny'? Time for a complaint

Recevied a 'Neither confirm nor deny' from the GCSB? Then it's time to complain to the Privacy Commissioner.

If you have received a response from the GCSB to your request under the Privacy Act that they will 'neither confirm nor deny' if they have any information about you, you may now want to follow up with a request to investigate with the Privacy Commissioner.

Following the revelations that the GCSB illegally spied on 88 people, the Privacy Commissioner encouraged people to come to her if they were unhappy with the response of the GCSB.

So here's what you can do:

By postal mail:

1. Make a copy of your original letter to the GCSB & a copy of their response.
2. Write a short cover note to the Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff asking her to investigate the matter on your behalf.
3. Send the two copies of the letters to Privacy Commisioner, PO Box 10-094, The Terrace, Wellington 6143.

By email:

1. Scan or photograph your response from the GCSB. Have your original request to the GCSB as an electronic file (word doc or pdf)
2. Write a short email to the Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff asking her to investigate the matter on your behalf.
3. Email the Privacy Commissioner at:

We at OASIS would really like to know if you have received a response from the GCSB and if you are following up with the Privacy Commissioner. Please send us an email ( and let us know how you get on. Thanks!

Friday, July 5, 2013

OASIS blows the whistle on GCSB submissions

Media Release: OASIS blows the whistle on GCSB submissions
5 July 2013

Two members of OASIS (Organising Against State Intelligence and Surveillance) today dumped whistles on the desk at the Intelligence and Security Committee during the GCSB submissions saying that the people need whistle blowers because politicians are not listening.

The committee was chaired by Tony Ryall because John Key was absent for the duration of the hearings today.

“John Key has been telling us that the national security depends on this Bill and today he doesn’t even find it important enough to attend the committee hearings,” said spokesperson Anna Thorby.

“It just shows that he is not up to the job of minister in charge of security and intelligence”.

The government was intent on expanding the machinery of state surveillance at any cost. The only ways the invasive powers of the state come to light was when people working within the agencies blow the whistle on the growing surveillance state, the committee heard.

“Politicians sit there and spout words about democracy and transparency, but the only way to shed any light on the innards of the state agencies is through whistle blowers,” said Ms Thorby.

Members of the GCSB, SIS, NZ police, NZDF, other NZ agencies, and international intelligence agencies were asked by OASIS to become whistle-blowers and leak documents.

“Whistle-blowing and leaks will be needed more than ever when the GCSB Bill becomes law. We already know that the GCSB has acted illegally.”

“Over the past year the GCSB has been caught out spying illegally on a group of people: some of them, like Dotcom have been named but there are 88 others and the GCSB is refusing to tell people if they were victims of state crime,” said Ms Thorby. “And this Bill is not going to change any of that.”

“The call for reviews and investigations into the GCSB is pointless - the GCSB can simply refuse to co-operate with the Intelligence and Security Committee by saying that everything is an operational matter. The committee and the Inspector-General are explicitly unable to examine the operations of the GCSB.”

“We have had 12 years of the war on terrorism cravenly being used by politicians of all colours to advance the surveillance state. We do not consent to this surveillance, and this is not the world we want to live in.”


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

John Key living on the spy-cloud

Prime Minister John Key gave an insight into his lack of understanding of the role of state agencies at the GCSB Bill hearings today. In his world, everything is a business and cost cutting is the only thing that matters.

On two occasions he likened giving the GCSB the power to spy on people on behalf of other agencies to the act of outsourcing a part of a business. He didn’t seem to have any awareness that spying on people is not just another business, but a highly intrusive act for which there must be clear rules and regulations. Any oversight regime headed by Key is likely to be a joke.

He also showed his arrogance towards submitters.

Key shamelessly used his position as Minister in charge of the GCSB to ridicule submitters. When several submitters stated that NZ had not been the target of terrorist activities since the bombing of the Rainbow Warrior, in each case he asked if they had any documents to prove that. Of course, no one except him and Ian Fletcher would be able to prove or disprove such a statement. 

In another rude comment, Key said after Kim Dotcom had finished his submission: “That’s it, we’re out of here,” ignoring the fact that several more submitters were scheduled to speak. However, his call was heeded by the raft of media who left the room with the star of the show.

There were 9 groups of submitters today and most spoke strongly against the Bill, stating that people had a right to privacy.

Two key points were made today. First, the assertion that meta-data (i.e. data about data, such as who spoke on the phone with whom for how long) was just as ‘valuable’ to spy agencies as the actual content of a conversation. Therefore there should be no distinction between the two as far as the need for warrants and regulations are concerned. A particular concern was that the Bill contained no definition of meta-data while the amount of information contained in meta-data was ever increasing. Today’s cell phone meta-data contains the exact location of both caller and receiver during the entire call – information which was not available ten years ago.

The second concern raised by a number of people was that there had been no cost analysis done on the benefit of ‘outsourcing’ spying jobs to the GCSB. The main reason behind the Bill is that it would be too costly to replicate the technical infrastructure of the GCSB for the SIS and the police and therefore the GCSB should be able to act for the SIS and other agencies. However, no figures are available as to how much the alleged cost savings are.

The hearings will continue on Friday, July 5 at 10am in Bowen House.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Media Release: GCSB Hearings a farce

From: OASIS - Organising Against State Intelligence and Surveillance
July 1, 2013

The Security and Intelligence Committee is missing the point when it hears submissions on the ‘GCSB and Related Legislation Amendment Bill’ this week, an anti-surveillance group says.

‘Organising Against State Intelligence and Surveillance’ (OASIS) is encouraging people to attend the public hearings, but the group says the main issues are not individual clauses with the Bill.

“Instead of arguing over the wording of the Bill, the members of the Security and Intelligence Committee should answer the question why they think NZ needs a spy agency that is a junior partner to the NSA,” a spokesperson for the group said today.

“The recently leaked documents, showing how the NSA and the GCHQ are continuously monitoring the communications of hundreds of millions of people worldwide, demonstrate the urgent need to seriously curtail state surveillance powers, not expand them.”

“The Kitteridge report found that the GCSB has been spying illegally on 88 people, and the government’s reaction to this is to pass a Bill under urgency that legalises that practice,” the spokesperson continued.

“People have the right to be left alone by the state. Instead, John Key is using the spectre of terrorism to scare people into giving up their rights. We never gave consent to a surveillance society.”

A recently published phone conversation with the former Inspector General of Security and Intelligence, during which he couldn’t remember the name of the GCSB’s director, shows the lack of seriousness this and previous governments have demonstrated in dealing with spy agencies.

“This clearly shows how slack the so-called oversight of the spy agencies is, and appointing a new Inspector General and giving them a deputy isn’t going to change that. While we encourage submitters to talk to the committee, we don’t hold our breath that any of the concerns raised will be taken seriously by the government,” the spokesperson said.


The schedule of hearings can be found here. The hearings are in Room 2, Bowen House. 

Neazor fired

Yesterday, John Key announced in a brief press release that he has replaced Paul Neazor as the Inspector General of Security and Intelligence with Andrew McGechan, effective immediately. The statement does not say that Neazor resigned, nor does it give any reasons why he was replaced.

And while the media are full of stories about a ‘stand-off’ between Kim Dotcom and John Key during the committee hearings on Wednesday (5 pm), they hardly mention the unceremonious dumping of the person who has been in charge of overseeing the country’s spy agencies for ten years.

However, TV3 reports that Neazor’s replacement has no intention to review the 88 cases of illegal spying.