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23 Aug, 2013 15:22

New Zealand has direct access to US surveillance

New Zealand has direct access to US surveillance

New Zealand’s police and intelligence services have direct access to US surveillance systems such as PRISM, to monitor email and capture various data traffic, according to police affidavits in connection with the raid on Kim Dotcom’s mansion.

The news that the Organised and Financial Crime Agency New Zealand (OFCANZ) requested assistance from the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) was revealed by blogger Keith Ng on his On Point blog

He discovered that the police provided the GCSB – the government’s signals intelligence unit – with a list of indicators for scanning emails and other information traffic generated by Kim Dotcom and his colleagues and co-founders at Megaupload.

New Zealand and Australia use a ‘selector’ categorization system akin to the NSA’s XKEYSCORE, revealed recently by whistleblower Edward Snowden in his set of PRISM revelations about unsanctioned US spying on people across the globe.

PRISM is an all-reaching computer surveillance system run by the US government and the NSA.

Some of these selectors have been redacted in the documents, but others remain – such as Kim Dotcom’s email addresses and the names of proxy servers he uses to access various accounts and servers.

Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom (AFP Photo/Marty Melville)

Last year, Dotcom’s mansion was raided by the police for alleged rights and piracy-related breaches, all based on indictments filed in the US.

There is clear indication of the surveillance system monitoring live traffic. The reports reveal communications interspersed with terms such as ‘CONFIDENTIAL’ or ‘NEW ZEALAND EYES ONLY’, or even ‘SECRET…REL TO NZL, AUS, CAN, GBR, USA,” which speaks for itself.

However, while this is certainly a new revelation, it may not be surprising to many. The NSA sometime shares information with NZ, as part of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance, which also includes the UK, Australia and Canada.

Moreover, New Zealand passed a new bill in August, which radically expands the powers of its spying agency. The legislation was passed 61 votes to 59 in a move that was slammed by the opposition as a death knell for privacy rights in New Zealand.

The new amendment bill gives the GCSB powers to support the New Zealand police, Defense Force and the Security Intelligence Service. 

Polls have shown that three quarters of the Kiwi population are opposed to the law. And Kim Dotcom promptly gave his reaction on Twitter with the words “RIP Privacy”.