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
- Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt Heads to Malta For New Movie After A Whirlwind French Wedding [PHOTOS]
- Prince William & Kate Middleton Caught Flirting In A Countryside Dinner Date [PHOTOS]
- Chris Martin Getting Serious With Jennifer Lawrence, Actress Joining Coldplay Tour [PHOTOS]
Join the Conversation
- MH370 Update: Australians Unveil New Map To Find The Missing Plane
- Ebola Virus 'Rapidly Mutating' as Research Finds Almost 400 Mutations; International Aid Moves at a Snail's Pace
- Court Grants Indian Man Divorce Over Wife’s Insatiable Sex Demands
- ISIS Threat: Australia Terror Alert Level at 'Medium' as Saudi King Warns of Attacks in Europe in a Month
- Shocking Ice Bucket Challenge Video: Man Drenches 10-Month-Old Granddaughter, Video Garnered Angry And Appalled Comments From Viewers
- Apple iPhone 6 Actual Release Date after September 9 Confirmed 128GB Variant with New Resolution
- Moto G2 Release Roundup: Specs, Pricing, and Release Date Details
- PlayStation 4 Killing Xbox One Costing Microsoft Millions But It's Fine
- Google Chrome 64-bit for Windows 8 and Window 7 with Mac Beta Available
- Apple iOS 8 vs Android 5.0 L: OS Wars Puts Android to Lower while Apple to Higher
- Nexus 6 on Release Date Confirmed with Phablet-Size Display as FCC Filing Hints of 5.9-Inch Screen
- Google Can Kill Samsung with Android KitKat and Android One: Here's How