15 Sep 2014

John Key insists data plan was abandoned

7:37 pm on 15 September 2014

As crowds gathered to hear American journalist Glenn Greenwald, the Prime Minister said a proposal for what he described as a 'broad programme of data protection' was abandoned, in part because of the risk it would be seen as mass surveillance.

As crowds gathered to hear American journalist Glenn Greenwald, Prime Minister John Key said a proposal for what he described as a 'broad programme of data protection' was abandoned, in part because of the risk it would be seen as mass surveillance.

Greenwald promised to release information to show New Zealanders have been the target of mass surveillance by the GCSB and international spy agencies.

Long queues formed outside the Auckland Town Hall where the Greenwald was to speak. The Internet party founder Kim Dotcom organised the meeting, which has been called "the Moment of Truth".

Queues formed outside the Auckland town hall ahead of Kim Dotcom's 'Moment of Truth' event.

Queues formed outside the Auckland town hall ahead of Kim Dotcom's 'Moment of Truth' event. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

But John Key has repeatedly said the GCSB has not collected mass data on New Zealanders and nor have New Zealand's Five Eyes partners done so to circumvent New Zealand law.

John Key talking to reporters in Christchurch earlier today.

John Key talking to reporters in Christchurch earlier today. Photo: RNZ / Jane Patterson

In 2012 the GCSB started to look at a proposal to run an anti-virus programme over all of the information coming into New Zealand through the Southern Cross cable. But Mr Key said that was abandoned in favour of protecting specific organisations.

John Key said Cabinet papers to back his side of the story had been declassified and would be released.

Speaking to reporters in Christchurch today, he rejected accusations he was releasing the documents for political gain.

"It's a bit rich though to say that it's expedient when here's a guy that's used hacked information presenting a case that's actually wrong, now he only saw one part of it and that's as I said a big problem, once you hack into something, you present the wrong picture don't you, because you know he might of been right if it had carried on all the way through but unfortunately for him he's completely and utterly wrong."

Asked on Radio New Zealand whether it was in the public interest for New Zealanders to know the GCSB was considering this programme, Mr Key said it was not, but he had no option but to release the information now.

NZ communications 'routine'

National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden earlier said John Key was not telling the truth about what he said was mass surveillance of New Zealanders.

Edward Snowden made his claims in testimony to the European Parliament.

Edward Snowden made his claims in testimony to the European Parliament. Photo: AFP / The Guardian

In an article published online this afternoon, Mr Snowden said he routinely came across New Zealanders' communications when he worked at the NSA.

See the downloaded documents here

See downloaded documents here

He said any statement that mass surveillance was not performed in New Zealand and that it was not intentionally abetted by the Government's spy agency, the Government Communications and Security Bureau (GCSB), was false.

Mr Snowden said the GCSB provided mass surveillance data to a tool called XKEYSCORE, which was shared with the NSA.

He said the tool was used primarily for reading individuals' private email, text messages, and internet traffic.

Mr Snowden said the GCSB also provided access to the communication of millions of New Zealanders to the NSA - and that the Prime Minister was personally aware of that.

Warner Bros distances itself from Herald report

The filmmaker Warner Bros has denied a report that Prime Minister John Key wanted the Internet businessman Kim Dotcom granted residency in New Zealand so he could be extradited to the United States.

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John Key and Kim Dotcom. Photo: RNZ

An email published on the New Zealand Herald's website this afternoon purported to show Warner Bros chief executive Kevin Tsujihara claiming John Key told him the Government would grant Mr Dotcom residency despite concern from officials about his past convictions.

The email said Mr Key told Mr Tsujihara that the Government would help with Mr Dotcom's extradition once he was granted residency.

But Warner Bros told Radio New Zealand that Mr Tsujihara did not write or send the alleged email and never had any such conversation with Mr Key.

The Herald said the email would be the evidence to be revealed by Mr Dotcom at the public meeting in Auckland tonight.

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