Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Key lied about mass-surveillance

Surprise, surprise - it turns out that John Key lied to our faces about the mass-surveillance "speargun" project:

Sir John Key's story of how and why he canned a "mass surveillance" programme are at odds with official papers detailing development of the "Speargun" project.

The issue blew up in the final days of the 2014 election with Key claiming the programme was long-dead and had been replaced by a benign cyber-security system called Cortex.

Key always claimed the Speargun project to tap New Zealand's internet cable was stopped in March 2013.

But new documents show development of Speargun continued after the time he had said he ordered a halt - apparently because the scheme was "too broad".

Instead, they show Speargun wasn't actually stopped until after Key was told in a secret briefing that details were likely to become public because they could be in the trove of secrets taken by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Key basicly pretended that telling GCSB not to bring the business case to Cabinet for now because it needed legislative approval was the same as cancellation. It wasn't, and work continued right up until the "Moment of Truth" event. Worse, Key's chief-of-staff Wayne Eagleson deliberately hid documents the PM held from an OIA request by transferring it to GCSB. That's not hat-games, its not "pretty legal" withholding, its straight-out lying. The entire basis of the OIA regime relies on officials being honest about what they hold. If they're not going to do that, then we need to start providing strong incentives for them to do so. Incentives like jail time, as they do in Canada.

Meanwhile, new GCSB Minister Andrew Little is refusing to comment. In a situation where the previous government has been conclusively shown to have deceived us about spying, I think he owes us a little more than that.