The head of the GCSB spy agency, Ian Fletcher, has
apologised to Prime Minister John Key for making embarrassing
errors in its 2013 annual report on the number of interception
warrants and access authorisations in force and issued.
In each case it under-stated the number.
The errors are particularly embarrassing given the assurances
Prime Minister John Key has given that its systems had been
cleaned up after the Rebecca Kitteridge review of the agency.
An erratum to the annual report was tabled in Parliament
The Government Communications Security Bureau said the
original figure published was the number of operations in
force in 2012-13 rather than the number of warrants that had
been in force.
Some operations got repeat warrants. In the case of
interception warrants, while there were seven operations,
some required new warrants to be issued and a total of 11
warrants had been in force over the period, not the seven
Five new interception warrants - used for tapping phones for
example - had been issued, not the four as originally stated.
The biggest error was on the number of access authorisations
- for access to computers for example - with 26 having been
in force over the period, not the 14 originally stated.
And 11 new access authorisations were issues, not nine as
Mr Key's spokeswoman issues a statement saying: "The Prime
Minister is unhappy that the error has been made and has
received a letter expressing regret from GCSB Director Ian
Fletcher. The Prime Minister has been advised that the error
stems from GCSB mistakenly counting the number of operations
rather than the number of warrants on issue. There was no
attempt to deliberately mislead. Further, he has been advised
by the Director that steps have been taken to ensure the
error cannot happen again."
- Audrey Young of the NZ Herald