Tuesday, December 03, 2013

An explosion of spying

The SIS's Annual Report was released today, and as usual I've been browsing through it. There's some interesting news in it: apparently the SIS deployed people to Afghanistan to provide "intelligence support" to the NZDF Provincial Reconstruction Team prior to its withdrawal. As for their annual excuse for their increased budget and intrusive powers, this year it is the "threat" of kiwis returning home after fighting in the Middle East and Northern and Eastern Africa, and "new manifestations of traditional threats (espionage and, potentially, sabotage) through the medium of cyber [sic]". That's right, hackers are the new security "justification". Keith Ng, they're coming for you.


[New SIS domestic interception warrants by year. Data extracted from SIS Annual Reports here]

There's also this worrying data point: the number of domestic interception warrants issued last year increased to 22, the highest on record. There seems to be no public threat to justify such an increase, so either we are looking at a massive new security threat which is completely invisible to the public, or the threshold for granting such warrants (which allow phones to be tapped, computers hacked, and homes burgled) has reduced significantly. Unfortunately, because its all done in secret, we'll never know.