16 Sep 2014

Former GSCB head on Snowden claims about mass surveillance

From Nine To Noon, 9:08 am on 16 September 2014
Sir Bruce Ferguson.

Sir Bruce Ferguson. Photo: RNZ

Former NSA contractor and now whistleblower, Edward Snowden, has claimed that New Zealanders' information was accessed by a mass surveillance tool the NSA shared with NZ's Government Communications Security Bureau and other Five Eyes partners, called XKeyscore.

Training materials for the mass surveillance programme XKeyScore said it was the NSA's widest reaching intelligence system. It allows security officials to search vast databases of nearly everything a typical user does on the internet, including the content of emails, websites visited and searches, as well as metadata.

A February 2008 presentation released by Edward Snowden said it was top secret to Five Eyes countries, including New Zealand, and a map showed New Zealand as one of the programme's locations. The Prime Minister John Key refuses to comment on XKeyscore at all, but he says there is not, and never has been, a cable access surveillance programme operating in New Zealand.

Sir Bruce Ferguson was Director of the Government Communications Security Bureau between 2006 and 2010. He comments on Mr. Snowden's claims.