Key denies US systems like PRISM used to circumvent NZ law - but woolly on details

UPDATE: Asked in Parliament by Green MP Steffan Browning this afternoon whether the GCSB cooperated with PRISM data collection, or had solicited NSA to use PRISM on its behalf, Prime Minister John Key replied. "I’m not going to go inot the operation matters ... We don’t ask foreign intelligence agencies to act in any way that circumvents the law."


EARLIER: On TV3's Firstline this morning, the PM categorically denied New Zealand uses systems like the NSA's PRISM to circumvent NZ law.

The logic is that if the US government spy agency collects traffic arriving at its borders through PRISM, then it will be hoovering up lots of txts, emails and calls from New Zealanders (it has also been alleged PRISM collects information from the servers of tech companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Apple and Microsoft - the companies deny this is happening, at least with their knowledge; in some cases the denials are very carefully worded). When information is exchanged between US and NZ agencies, this US-gathered information would be shared, providing a warrant-less way to spy on Kiwis).

The question also lingers: does NZ feed information into PRISM? Mr Key was not directly asked that question, but host Rachel Smalley did ask John Key if NZ was using PRISM to circumvent our law.

He replied, "Well we do exchange – and it’s well known – information with our partners – so that’s the first thing, we do do that. How they gather that information and whether they use techniques and systems like PRISM I can’t comment on that. Sometimes I might know. Sometimes I wouldn’t know."

Given recent events, maybe he should - as GCSB Minister - look into that one a little more closely.

The Prime Minister continued: "I can’t tell you how the United States gathers all of their information and what techniques they use. I simply don’t know that."

He added, "If the question is, 'Do we use the United States or one of our other partners to circumvent New Zealand law?' then the answer is categorically no we don’t."

ckeall@nbr.co.nz


POSTSCRIPT: This morning, Labour ICT spokeswoman Clare Curran said in light of the scandal, there should be an extension granted for submissions to the GCSB Bill and the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Bill, both due Thursday. Tech Liberty founder Thomas Beagle told NBR he had applied for an extension, and been given until Monday. 

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