InternetNZ is concerned by the latest revelations on matters of state surveillance and is asking the Government to answer to some questions. The organisation says that the latest information raises questions regarding the involvement of New Zealand's GCSB in certain NSA programmes, and reinforces the need for Internet technologists to find ways to mitigate overly broad surveillance programmes.
InternetNZ Chief Executive Jordan Carter says that there is documentary information (albeit leaked) suggesting the GCSB was part of a knowledge sharing group. New Zealanders deserve straight answers as to whether New Zealand intelligence organisations were active participants or just observers.
"The latest leaks appear to show that the GCSB was shown XKeyscore, the data harvesting software; that New Zealand was advised that there was spying on leaders of 'allies'; and that the NSA was putting backdoors into ICT companies' systems. What New Zealanders deserve to know is whether New Zealand took part in any of those activities.
"The Prime Minister has gone to great lengths to explain that New Zealand's GCSB was part of the Five Eyes but only peripherally so and that the GCSB only got involved "where necessary". These latest leaks seem to show that New Zealand's involvement could go deeper than that. We would ask that this be clarified, in public, at the earliest opportunity.
"Whatever New Zealand's involvement in particular Five Eyes programmes, the broader question of pervasive monitoring needs to be tackled. It risks reducing the use people can make of the Internet, and reducing the gains that can accrue from its rollout. Trust is vital in allowing online social and commercial interaction, but pervasive monitoring - whether by governments, corporates or criminals - puts those prospects at risk.
"Many in the Internet community view this pervasive monitoring as an attack requiring mitigation. The Internet Engineering Task Force, the body who works to develop technical Internet protocols, is working with its community to mitigate the perceived damage caused by this surveillance by designing protocols that make monitoring significantly more expensive or infeasible.
Mr Carter ended by noting that in the other Five Eyes countries there was serious debate going on about the level of surveillance. New Zealand doesn't seem to have started that conversation.
"When the GCSB and TICSA Bills were passed last year, there were a lot of angry voices. Since then, the public debate has faded. We think New Zealanders are ready to have a mature conversation about the relationship between privacy and security in the Internet era.
"Such a discussion will never be easy, but aiming to get the right approach can help inform later debate about New Zealand's links to the global surveillance system. Privacy and security are both important priorities; there will always be debate on how they relate to each other.
"New Zealand's challenge is to get this right in a way that protects people's rights and helps build a platform for New Zealand's future success," Jordan Carter says.
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