The Dim-Post

September 24, 2012

Stuff I’d like to read in a political column on the GCSB/Dotcom story

Filed under: intelligence,Politics — danylmc @ 6:16 pm

Via the Herald:

The Government Communications Security Bureau did not have a warrant to intercept communications in the lead-up to the raid on the Dotcom mansion in January.

Prime Minister John Key has revealed the GCSB was acting without his sign-off when it was working with police to locate people who were subject to arrest warrants.

He said he had not issued a warrant and was not briefed on the operation.

Mr Key has requested an inquiry by the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security into the unlawful interception of communications by the GCSB, saying it had acquired communications without statutory authority.

When intelligence agencies make mistakes they usually manage to convince their political masters that it’s ‘not in the public interest’ for their incompetence/law-breaking to be revealed. Why hasn’t that happened this time? Did this information come out through the discovery process in one of Dotcom’s court cases, and the government is pre-empting that revelation by announcing it themselves? Or is Key just ‘doing the right thing’?

(I’d also like to go on record predicting no one will be held accountable for this. Any illegality will be due to a faulty ‘process’, that needs to be ‘reviewed’.)


  1. Good comment, Danyl, my guess is that the information did emerge during the discovery process. Presumably Graeme Edgeler will be along soon to confirm that.

    Sadly, also have to agree with your on the record prediction.

    Finally, how is all this looking internationally? On the plus side we have an impartial judiciary. On the other…Keystone Cops v 2012.0?

    Comment by TerryB — September 24, 2012 @ 6:21 pm

  2. The fact came out in questioning in court at Auckland. When asked to list people at a meeting 14 Dec 2011 Police Officer named several, then said and one other person. When pressed he said not from SIS, but ‘could not say’ what dept it was. I assume there have been representations from Mr Dotcoms legal team and the Crown has had to reply to the judge in writing.

    Comment by Glg — September 24, 2012 @ 6:23 pm

  3. Apparently this was due to oversight – the GCSB didn’t realise that dotcom was a NZ citizen, and hence they needed a warrant.

    Which is completely unbelievable. What security intelligence agency on this planet doesn’t put together a dossier on someone before spying on them, which you would assume would have basic info like residency status front and centre? Only the most fucking incompetent, or else one who knows he doesn’t have residency but wants to pretend they don’t so that they can later claim they didn’t know….

    Comment by DT — September 24, 2012 @ 6:26 pm

  4. Or even, knows he DOES have residency.

    Comment by DT — September 24, 2012 @ 6:27 pm

  5. Like they are tweeting, he paid $500,000 for fireworks at Sky City to celebrate residency. I’d have thought an Intelligence Agency would pick that up in a Google search or something.

    Comment by Glg — September 24, 2012 @ 6:29 pm

  6. Finally, how is all this looking internationally?

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — September 24, 2012 @ 6:34 pm

  7. What security intelligence agency on this planet doesn’t put together a dossier on someone before spying on them . . . ?
    A security agency which sees itself as an effective branch office of a foreign power?

    Comment by Joe W — September 24, 2012 @ 6:41 pm

  8. “no one will be held accountable for this”

    What about those guys who damaged the Giant Golf Ball? They got tried, and re-tried, and chased for money they don’t have … can’t we blame them again? They’re the real threat to our peace and stability.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — September 24, 2012 @ 6:55 pm

  9. John Key is a muppet

    Comment by Dan — September 24, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

  10. DT. The GCSB isn’t allowed to spy on New Zealanders and permanent residents at all, even with a warrant. s14

    Comment by Deano — September 24, 2012 @ 8:20 pm

  11. Deano: I haven’t checked the law on this, so was relying on TV3 6PM news (foolish, no?). Still, the fact that provision you cite expressly applies to NZ citizens or residents by implication implies that non citiziens/.residents can have communications intercepted. RIght? Oh well, thats how I read it, but too lazy to substantiate (I assume my awesome undergrad law was worth something….)

    Comment by DT — September 24, 2012 @ 8:51 pm

  12. It is highly irregular for the GCSB to be involved in domestic intelligence activites – certainly in an operational as opposed to an advisoty role – that there are a number of other agencies with collegial ties to the FBI who sole mandate is to handle elements of domestic criminal intelligence (including SIGINT).

    The interesting story will be which foreign agency fired through the request and under what mandate / rationale.

    Comment by Gregor W — September 24, 2012 @ 9:01 pm

  13. “Or is Key just ‘doing the right thing’?”

    I am glad to see your satirical face return.

    Comment by peterlepaysan — September 24, 2012 @ 9:26 pm

  14. Or is Key just ‘doing the right thing’?

    #13 got there first, but what the hell. That line just has to win the Satirical Awesomeness Award 2012, should such a thing turn out to actually exist.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — September 24, 2012 @ 10:42 pm

  15. DT wrote: “Still, the fact that provision you cite expressly applies to NZ citizens or residents by implication implies that non citiziens/.residents can have communications intercepted.”

    Indeed. It’s often been suggested that the real role of the GCSB is to spy on US and Australian citizens whose governments want to spy on them but can’t because they are prohibited by law from doing so. If that’s true, I’m not sure why the US authorities didn’t just spy on Kim Dotcom themselves.

    Comment by kahikatea — September 24, 2012 @ 10:50 pm

  16. @ Deano – I think this ‘NZ spy agencies can’t spy on Kiwis’ idea is a common misperception, though I would defer to legal types. S14 of the GSCB Act does preclude spying on NZ citizens or permanent residents, but…. it is framed in terms of spying on ‘foreign organisations or foreign persons, which has some wiggle room around the definition (s4, Interpretation). The definition of a ‘foreign organisation’ includes a foreign company, and doesn’t that nice fella Kim Dotcom own a company based overseas (in Hong Kong isn’t it?). So the GCSB *could possibly* try to stretch things to say they were only tracking MegaUpload communications,which just happen to be by Dotcom.

    Comment by bob — September 25, 2012 @ 3:27 am

  17. #13 & #14 For Gods sake don’t move the telescope to your good eye, I don’t think I could stand the shock.

    Comment by davidw — September 25, 2012 @ 8:36 am

  18. With regard to dossiers compiled, police and FBI were discussing Mona Dotcoms pregnancy in 2011. So they knew she was pregnant, but not that Dotcom was a resident?

    Comment by Glg — September 25, 2012 @ 8:55 am

  19. The results from each school are unmoderated and therefore suspect, aren’t they? So all this data is of little use. I taught a year 8 for a while last year in a private school. We were doing the Cambridge programme so didn’t need to follow the national standards (incredible, eh?). I had a quick look at the National Standards and deemed half a dozen kids ( out of two classes totalling 40) to be below the standard for writing … and probably reading. Two of them had hard to diagnose learning difficulties. They might get there in the end but they will take a while to catch up with their peers. And yet a number of schools have no one below the standard or fewer than I would expect – even in a high decile school. At least in NCEA there is moderation and external results to check the internals against. Moderation of primary schools would be very costly. It would be better to go back to our curriculum where we could if we wanted to report each child as reaching the expected level or not. I used to do that for years 9 and 10: at the level, above the level or below the level.

    Comment by M0 — September 25, 2012 @ 11:17 am

  20. @ danyl – Do you or anyone on DimPost know anything about this report that Unitec will be monitoring web traffic into/out of NZ, as part of their new cybersecurity unit?

    Relevant quotes are:
    “A new cybersecurity research centre opening in Auckland this week aims to monitor cyber traffic in and out of the country…”
    “Based at Unitec, the Cybersecurity Research Centre would be modelled on Japan’s NICT centre and have technology to monitor cyber traffic.”

    Academic study is good, but we haven’t even house trained the GCSB yet… ;(

    Comment by bob — September 26, 2012 @ 1:16 am

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