New Zealand Spy Agency Head Denies Claims of Mass Surveillance on Kiwis
By Reissa Su | May 8, 2014 11:56 AM EST
New Zealand's Government Communications and Security Bureau (GCSB) head Ian Fletcher has denied accusations that the spy agency is conducting a mass surveillance on Kiwis. In a seminar in Wellington organised by the Privacy Commission on May 7, Mr Fletcher said the country has legitimate concerns in preventing organised crime, terrorism and nuclear arms trade.
The spy agency head said the actual surveillance affects only a few people whom he said are "doing really bad stuff." Mr Fletcher said it would take a huge increase in his salary budget to implement mass surveillance. He added it would be impractical because the agency will need 130,000 staff to listen to everyone's phone calls and monitor their text messages.
The GCSB head went on to refute what he described as a "libertarian fantasy" or state security was necessary and the "paranoid fantasy" in which the state was "out to get you." He repeatedly mentioned Thomas Hobbes, a British philosopher who argued a "strong state" was required to keep the public's evil tendencies in line.
However, long-time critic and member of lobby group Tech Liberty Thomas Beagle found only little assurance in Mr Fletcher's comments. Mr Beagle said even if mass surveillance was not in place, New Zealand's spy agency was still watching the people it needs to monitor but who might have no criminal ties.
Privacy Commissioner John Edwards was apparently satisfied with the speech. Mr Edwards said he hoped Mr Fletcher's denial of mass surveillance will finally put the issue to rest and dispel rumours of conspiracies.
Following the spying claims made against Australia by Indonesia and the Edward Snowden leaks, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key sought confirmation from Mr 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".
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.
To contact the editor, e-mail:
Most Popular Slideshows
- Flight MH17 Attack: Russians Claim 'Putin A Terrorist,' Memorial at Dutch Embassy Overflows [PHOTOS]
- Typhoon Rammasun Claims 18 Lives in China, Incurs $4.32B Losses (PHOTOS)
- Ellen DeGeneres Caught Cheating with Mutual Friend Before Portia de Rossi’s Rehab – Reports [PHOTOS]
- Malaysia Airlines MH17: Vital Black Boxes Finally Land in Hands of Malaysian Authorities, Rebels Announce Ceasefire (PHOTOS/VIDEOS)
Join the Conversation
- Another Aviation Disaster: Taiwan Plane Crashes, Passengers Aboard Feared Dead [PHOTO]
- 'Dronies' to Become Latest Trend as Tourism New Zealand Buys Drone to Record Tourists' Videos
- Former Destiny’s Child Star Farrah Franklin Arrested
- MH370 Search Efforts Not Affected by MH17 Recovery; Australia Still Committed to Solving Mystery
- Asylum Seeker Women in Australia-Run Christmas Island Attempt Suicide in Desperation
- Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Apps Leak Online, Five Fresh Features to Expect from the Android Smartphone
- Moto 360 Price Speculations, Key Features, Strategic Release Date, Design: A Watch That is More Than Just Time
- Windows Phone 8.1 Update Rollout: 20 Nokia Lumia Phones Eligible and 13 New Features to be Added
- Three New Moto G Successors Spotted in FCC Document Dubbed Moto G2, Moto M and More --Reports
- iPad Air 2 Release Date Will Skip IGZO Panel; To Rollout with Super-Slim iPad Mini Air
- Upcoming iPad Mini 3 Could be 30% Thinner and Likely be Called iPad Mini Air; Apple Q3 Results Show 9% Decrease in iPad Sales
- Sony Xperia M2 vs. Moto G – Specifications, Features and Price Showdown