Thu, Jul 05, 2018 - Page 5 News List

New Zealand spied on its neighbors for years: watchdog

AP, WELLINGTON

A report released yesterday found that New Zealand spied for years on its South Pacific neighbors and passed collected information to the US and other allies.

However, the watchdog overseeing New Zealand’s spy agencies did not recommend any changes after concluding that the spy agency that collected the data was acting within the law.

The report by New Zealand Inspector General of Intelligence and Security Cheryl Gwyn found that the New Zealand Government Communications Security Bureau collected bulk data from satellites from South Pacific countries from 2009 to 2015.

Some of that data was shared with spy agencies from New Zealand’s “Five Eyes” allies: the US, Canada, Britain and Australia, the report said.

The report was prompted by documents leaked by former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden that indicated the bureau was collecting data in the South Pacific.

That led to complaints from some New Zealanders who were worried that their private communications might have been intercepted.

The report found no evidence that had happened.

The report did not name any specific countries from which the bureau collected data and did not address whether the spying continued after 2015.

Gwyn said that for legal reasons she was not able to mention everything she had discovered, including information that might compromise the ongoing performance of an intelligence agency.

Some Pacific nations are dependent on satellites, rather than undersea cables, to connect with the rest of the world and that information can be intercepted from satellite links, the report said.

There were laws in place that enabled the bureau to collect such signals to protect New Zealand’s interests in the South Pacific, Gwyn said, adding that she found no evidence that it had operated beyond the law, except inadvertently in a couple of instances, which were identified and then fixed.

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