Our spies have been rapped for loose controls around the largest collection of sensitive information held by any government department which includes details of people’s alcohol and drug use — and their sexual behaviour.
The systems were so loose the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security said there was a risk foreign spies would try and access the information and use it to compromise Kiwis with high-level security clearances.
Urgent changes are underway to the system after an inquiry found a large number of people in the Security Intelligence Service had access to its collection of highly personal information on thousands of people.
The information is collected by the SIS as part of its inquiries into people needing security clearances for government work, including in the intelligence community.
To make the judgment around someone’s security clearance — up to “top secret special” — it results in a collection of details about people’s sex lives, drug use and possible alcohol abuse, along with information about their mental health or personal finances.
It’s been conventional wisdom in Wellington for as long as I can remember that people being vetted by the SIS should never actually disclose anything because the information was completely insecure. Good to hear that this has filtered up to their watchdog. Also, we should definitely trust them with sweeping new powers because they’re so trustworthy and professional and competent.