The Intercept and the New Zealand Herald have reported that New Zealand’s electronic eavesdropping agency, the Government Communications Security Bureau, has been spying on New Zealand’s island neighbors from an intelligence base located in New Zealand’s Waihopai Valley. The GCSB has intercepted copious amounts of data that has been collected at the Waihopai site. This data has included emails, Internet browsing sessions, and online chats that have come from 150 different locations worldwide.
Some of the locations being targeted include the island nations of Tuvalu, Nauru, Kiribati, Samoa, Vanuatu, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Tonga, and France’s overseas territories New Caledonia and French Polynesia. Each of these island nations has always maintained friendly relations with New Zealand.
According to newly revealed secret documents obtained by The Intercept, Edward Snowden, who used to work for the NSA, claims that New Zealand has taken on a small role in the surveillance alliance, ‘Five Eyes’, that includes electronic eavesdropping agencies from not only New Zealand, but also the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. Regardless of how small New Zealand’s role in ‘Five Eyes’ is, because of its limited funding, it is still one of the most important players thanks to its prime location.
In an op-ed published in September 2014 by The Intercept, Snowden explained that any statement released saying that “mass surveillance is not performed in New Zealand, or that the Internet communications are not comprehensively intercepted and monitored, or that this is not intentionally and actively abetted by the GCSB”, was a lie. According to Snowden when he was at the NSA he routinely came across the communications of New Zealanders in his work with a mass surveillance tool that the NSA supposedly shares with the GCSB.
Since the publication of Snowden’s op-ed, GCSB has declined to comment about the latest revelations, but did release a statement assuring the public they had New Zealand and its inhabitants’ best interests at heart. The NSA, however, has yet to comment on any of the allegations that have been made.
Ryan Gallagher and Nicky Hager, “New Zealand Spies On Neighbors In Secret ‘Five Eyes’ Global Surveillance,” The Intercept, March 4, 2015, https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/03/04/new-zealand-gcsb-surveillance-waihopai-xkeyscore/.
Nicky Hager and Ryan Gallagher, “Snowden revelations / The price of the Five Eyes club: Mass spying on friendly nations,” New Zealand Herald, March 5, 2015, http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11411759.
Student Researcher: Brooks Brorsen (Sonoma State)
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips (Sonoma State)