John Key has said he is aware
of some but not all of the tools used by the GCSB amid fresh
questions over an intrusive piece of spyware showcased by the
United States' NSA to their Kiwi partners.
The Prime Minister stuck to his position in refusing to talk
about "operational" details of the GCSB's (Government
Communications Security Bureau) work.
The refusal came the day after leaked material emerged from
whistleblower Edward Snowden showing New Zealand was enmeshed
in some of the most controversial aspects of the United
States' spy machine.
Among those was a slide shown at a conference for the Five
Eyes group of Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United
Kingdom and the United States which showcased the
capabilities of the X-Keyscore tool, which the NSA (National
Security Agency) uses to search mass-harvested phone and
Asked if he knew the tools used by the GCSB, he said "some of
them". "I don't go into the techniques the GCSB or SIS use."
But he repeated his oft-stated position there was no mass
surveillance of New Zealanders and partners in the Five Eyes
network were not used to get around the law.
The new slides also showed Australian spies asking for the
NSA's help to monitor citizens involved in Al Qaeda in the
Arabian Peninsula. Mr Key, asked if the GCSB sought NSA help
to watch the Kiwi killed there in a US drone strike, said: "I
don't have those details."
Mr Key refused to say whether the NSA helped fund the GCSB,
despite Snowden documents showing Canadian and United Kingdom
agencies received funding.
He said he expected no diplomatic wrangles from friendly
nations were further details of the GCSB's activities to be
"I think NZers actually accept that there is a place for
intelligence agencies (and) those intelligence agencies
provide very important services."
The online community's voice, Internet NZ, said Mr Key needed
to front up about the extent of the GCSB's involvement with
Internet NZ chief executive Jordan Carter said the Snowden
material appeared to show the GCSB involved in some of the
NSA's most controversial activities.
"The latest leaks appear to show that the GCSB was shown
X-Keyscore, the data harvesting software; that New Zealand
was advised that there was spying on leaders of 'allies' and
that the NSA was putting backdoors into company's systems.
What New Zealanders deserve to know is whether New Zealanders
took part in any of those activities."
He raised an apparent contradiction between Mr Key's earlier
statements of occasional sharing of information when an NSA
slide told Five Eyes members it wanted to "partner it all".
"These latest leaks seem to show that New Zealand's
involvement may go a bit deeper than that. We would ask that
this be clarified, in public, at the earliest opportunity."
The information was released with the publication of No Place
To Hide, a book by journalist Glenn Greenwald, who broke the