15 May 2014

Call for inquiry into GCSB

6:41 pm on 15 May 2014

The Labour Party says the Prime Minister needs to front up over new revelations by US whistleblower Edward Snowden which show New Zealand spies were trained on how to do mass surveillance.

Documents in a new book reveal a slideshow to agencies involved in the Five Eyes network on how to operate a system that trawls through massive amounts of phone numbers, email addresses and online chat.

These latest documents are part of the book No Place to Hide by journalist Glenn Greenwald who has worked closely with Edward Snowden.

One invites New Zealand's security services and those of other Five Eyes nations - Australia, Britain, the US and Canada - to "sniff it all, know it all, collect it all, process it all and exploit it all."

The documents also show New Zealand was forwarded intercepted phone calls, texts and emails between the Brazilian president and her staff.

Prime Minister John Key has consistently denied that there is any mass surveillance of New Zealanders, and has said that he and the head of the Government Communications Security Bureau, Ian Fletcher would resign if there was.

A spokeswoman for Mr Key said on Thursday the Prime Minister did not comment on intelligence or security matters and has reiterated that there is no wholesale collection of metadata.

Labour Party leader David Cunliffe said Mr Key was being asked a legitimate question, following the latest revelations, about whether his previous assurance to New Zealanders is true.

Both Labour and the Green parties say there needs to be an independent inquiry into the GCSB's activities.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said the information released directly links New Zealand spies to a global mass surveillance network.

"(It is) clearly a very ambitious programme but also a very dangerous programme for democracy," he told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme.

Intelligence analyst Dr Paul Buchanan said it was now clear the GCSB was involved in collecting metadata on New Zealanders, and the revelations could have diplomatic repercussions for the country's reputation among friendly nations.