Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Spying on friendly nations

Today's GCSB leak: the GCSB spies on friendly trading partners for America:

New Zealand spies on Vietnam, China, India, Pakistan, South American nations and a range of other countries to help fill gaps in worldwide surveillance operations by the United States National Security Agency (NSA), documents show.


The NSA profile of the GCSB reveals the New Zealand organisation is running spying operations against 20 or more countries, including friendly nations and trading partners.

The eavesdropping stretches from India and Iran in Asia to isolated scientific bases in Antarctica. These countries are listed in the NSA report in a section headed "What Partner Provides to NSA".

The NSA officer's review said the GCSB "continues to be especially helpful in its ability to provide NSA ready access to areas and countries ... difficult for the US to access".

It said the "GCSB provides collection on China, Japanese/North Korean/Vietnamese/South American diplomatic communications, South Pacific island nations, Pakistan, India, Iran and Antarctica".

With the exception of North Korea, with whom we're technically still at war, none of these nations are our enemies, and most are close trading partners. And as with the GCSB's spying on the Pacific, it doesn't advance our national security, let alone our international relations, at all. Instead, we spy on our friends simply so we can give sensitive information about them to our other "friend", the USA.

This isn't in our interests. Its not consistent with our position as a friendly nation which respects international law - let alone with how we see ourselves (it also seems inconsistent with the GCSB's legal objectives). And if this is what our spy agency does - spies on friends rather than enemies, partners rather than threats - then we are better off without it.