John Key: GCSB Not Gathering Metadata on New Zealanders to Supply to Other Nations

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By Reissa Su | December 3, 2013 4:24 PM EST

Following the spying claims made against Australia by Indonesia and the latest Edward Snowden leaks, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key sought confirmation from GCSB director Ian Fletcher that the spy agency does not collect metadata from Kiwis.

However, despite the GCSB assurance, Mr Key was unable to confirm to reporters whether the U.S. National Security Agency collected private information on New Zealanders. He told the press that he "didn't know".

A leaked intelligence memo was passed on to the Guardian from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The leaked document showed that the DSD, the GCSB's counterpart in Australia, had offered to supply metadata on Australian citizens in 2008. The reported data was offered to the Five Eyes network, the UK, U.S., New Zealand and Canada.

The leaked memo had suggested that the DSD planned to bypass Australia's laws to obtain wholesale information on citizens and not specifically targeting anyone.

Prime Minister Key told reporters that he talked with the GCSB head and asked for confirmation if New Zealand had collected metadata on Kiwis. The GCSB chief told him that there was no such thing.  Since no data was collected, there was nothing to share.

Mr Key added that New Zealand shares information in special cases and if the need arises. He also said GCSB does not allow other countries to gather information on New Zealanders and work around the law. When reporters asked if the NSA had collected information on New Zealanders for their benefit, Mr Key replied that he didn't have the answer to that question.

Mr Key denied reports that Australia's spy agency had offered to provide wholesale metadata to the Five Eyes network. New Zealanders should not lose confidence in the GCSB.  

Nevertheless, despite assurances, the New Zealand Parliament has passed a new law in November, requiring telecommunication companies to allow intelligence agencies to access their subscriber's emails, calls and texts. Under the Telecommunications Interceptions and Security Capability Bill, companies will need to consult with the spy agency doing the eavesdropping.

The new law will compel telecommunications companies to consult with New Zealand's Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) when planning to develop new networks and infrastructure. The GCSB will need to install interception and spying equipment on the new infrastructures.

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