Thursday, November 21, 2013

US spies on the UK

When news broke that the US and systematically been spying on its ally Germany, John Key was quick to reassure us. We had nothing to worry about, because our membership of the "Five Eyes" spy alliance exempted us from US spying.

He lied. In the case of the UK, membership provides no protection - GCHQ agreed to allow the US to collect and retain information on UK citizens:

The phone, internet and email records of UK citizens not suspected of any wrongdoing have been analysed and stored by America's National Security Agency under a secret deal that was approved by British intelligence officials, according to documents from the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

In the first explicit confirmation that UK citizens have been caught up in US mass surveillance programs, an NSA memo describes how in 2007 an agreement was reached that allowed the agency to "unmask" and hold on to personal data about Britons that had previously been off limits.

The memo, published in a joint investigation by the Guardian and Britain's Channel 4 News, says the material is being put in databases where it can be made available to other members of the US intelligence and military community.

Just another example of how citizens are being betrayed to the hegemon by our traitorous spy agencies. And it raises an obvious question: did GCSB make a similar "deal" with the US? And if so, why? What's in it for New Zealand to have the Americans spying on us?

But it gets worse, because Five Eyes membership in fact provides no protection at all:
A separate draft memo, marked top-secret and dated from 2005, reveals a proposed NSA procedure for spying on the citizens of the UK and other Five-Eyes nations, even where the partner government has explicitly denied the US permission to do so. The memo makes clear that partner countries must not be informed about this surveillance, or even the procedure itself.

So, we provide information, and the US will spy on us anyway. If this is what an "alliance" means to the US, I think they need a better dictionary.

Cooperation with the US in a global spy alliance damages our diplomatic relations, and erodes our privacy and human rights. It is bad for New Zealand (not to mention the world). Its time we got out.