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New Zealand snooping on tiny South Pacific neighbors

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A view of New Zealand Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB).

Latest documents leaked by US whistleblower Edward Snowden have revealed that New Zealand is conducting mass electronic surveillance on its South Pacific neighbors, and then passing the information on to a US-led intelligence alliance.

The material shows that the New Zealand Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) intercepts phone calls, emails, Internet browsing sessions and online chats of government ministers and senior officials in Pacific island nations, included Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, the Solomons Islands, the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Vanuatu, Nauru and France’s overseas territories New Caledonia and French Polynesia.

The GCSB then shares the collected information with partners in the Five Eyes network, Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States, through the XKeyscore computer program developed by the US National Security Agency (NSA).

“In effect, the New Zealand spy agency gathers information on the country’s nearest neighbors to help secure its place in the US-led alliance,” the English-language daily New Zealand Herald commented.

The documents further revealed that New Zealand and Australian intelligence services worked together to spy on Indonesia’s largest mobile phone network, Telkomsel.

Additionally, GCSB used its Waihopai base in New Zealand’s South Island to gather considerable amounts of data from the South Pacific region.

The base was upgraded to “full take” operations in 2009, and it currently collects both the content and metadata of all communications.

A spokeswoman for New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said the government “will not be responding to claims made from documents stolen by Snowden.”

“The Snowden documents were taken some time ago, and many are old, out of date, and we can’t discount that some of what is being put forward may even be fabricated,” she said.


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