3 Dec 2013

PM gives assurance over spying

5:14 am on 3 December 2013

Prime Minister John Key has given an assurance that the Government Communications Security Bureau does not collect metadata on New Zealanders and share it with foreign intelligence partners.

John Key.

John Key. Photo: RNZ

An article published by the Guardian Australia says that at a meeting in 2008, Australia's Defence Signals Directorate offered to share its metadata on ordinary Australians with the United States, Britain, Canada and New Zealand.

The article, based on documents leaked by fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden, prompted Mr Key to ring Government Communications Security Bureau director Ian Fletcher about the matter.

Mr Key said on Monday he sought and got an assurance from Mr Fletcher that the GCSB has not collected metadata on New Zealanders, let alone offered to share it with other spy agencies. He said it would be illegal for the bureau to do so.

"In terms of wholesale collection of metadata about New Zealanders, that hasn't taken place. I've asked the agency and that's the confirmation I've had."

Ian Fletcher will appear before Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee on Tuesday. Mr Key said he expects Mr Fletcher to be as open as he can.

Clinton Fernandez, an intelligence analyst from the University of New South Wales, says the documents are confirmation that spy agencies are getting real time information about citizens' phone calls and emails.