Hide: Your government is spying on you

The Privacy Commissioner reports the big three that ask for information are the Inland Revenue, the Ministry of Social Development and police. These three departments issued 11,333 information requests to just 10 companies – two telcos, seven financial services companies and one utility.

The Privacy Commissioner found ” virtually 100 per cent” compliance. The only non-compliance was when the individuals concerned weren’t customers – so the companies didn’t have the information.

The police need a warrant for the bulk of the requests they make. Thanks to powers given by Parliament, the IRD and Social Development don’t. We’re not talking information about gun-toting, murdering terrorists but everyday taxpayers and beneficiaries.

In 2012, the IRD served Trade Me with a notice demanding the details of nearly one million customers. To Trade Me’s great credit it resisted the demand and after much to-ing and fro-ing provided information on 44,368 customers. That’s still an astonishing number.

It is worrying there were more than 11,000 requests on just 10 sampled companies over three months – but consider this: the IRD’s request for personal data on one million customers would count as just one request.

Our personal information is being hoovered up by Government agencies on a massive scale. And there is no obligation on the companies or Government departments to tell us. Read more »

Braunias is onto it

The prosecution in the Kim Dotcom extradition case released evidence that the Dotcom conspirators were under surveillance for a significant amount of time.

Anything you Skype may be taken down and used against you in a court of law.

Big Brother and Five Eyes were the unseen forces at work in a hot courtroom in downtown Federal St yesterday when the Crown presented its opening address in the extradition hearing of Kim Dotcom and his band of Euro-geeks.

The United States wants to haul Dotcom and his former executives in the so-called “Mega Conspiracy” – Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato – to East Virginia to stand trial on money-laundering and copyright violation charges.

First, they need to establish there’s a prima facie case.

And so to an upstairs courtroom in the Chorus building, packed with ladies and gentlemen from the media, lawyers in bad suits, and members of the public, including the homeless man who keeps falling asleep.

Christine Gordon, QC, led for the Crown. She had no lack of material. FBI agents accessed millions of emails between the four accused; Gordon shared some of the juicier exchanges.

She prefaced the juicy fruits of the surveillance effort by saying the case could be reduced to a single sentence.

It was a very long sentence and it had far too many commas in it. The homeless man fell asleep long before she droned to the end of the sentence; his hands with their scraped knuckles hung between his knees, and he bowed his head.

An edited version of Gordon’s verbose sentence: “This was a conspiracy to make vast sums of money knowing it was unlawfully acquired.”

Quite helpful to have it distilled down that way. ?Especially as the defence keeps wanting to paint a picture that they were running a file hosting service, like a “post office”. ?Right. ? Read more »

Mediaworks staff throwing tanty over email snooping?

NBR reports:

The most telling indications of still-sinking staff morale, however, are the persistent rumours of senior management keeping tabs on staff communications.

Those that NBR has heard over several months include the claim that email groups via which regional news heads communicate with their staff were ? unbeknownst to them ? being blind cc-ed to Mr Weldon and/or some of his senior associates.

Another is that the Auckland-based IT department has been instructed to install filters on the company server for certain words and phrases (one staff member, for example, has told NBR of having to explain a private, entirely innocent email exchange that happened to include mention of another media organisation).

A MediaWorks spokeswoman has strongly denied those allegations, stating ?It is absolute nonsense that MediaWorks monitors staff communications.?

Read more »


More New Zealand residents under ISIS related surveillance


Good to know

Over the past year the threat of a terrorist attack here had increased, the head of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service says.

Rebecca Kitteridge’s comments come as troops are set deploy to Iraq on a joint training mission with Australia.

More New Zealanders were being monitored over the past year because of their links to Islamic State, she told Radio New Zealand. Read more »

Face of the day

Before and after elevator girl

Before and after elevator girl

Today’s face of the day is the face captured by a technology called BriefCam which helped catch the Boston Marathon bombers.Thanks to this video search engine technology hours of footage can be condensed into minutes, enabling the good guys to catch the bad guys faster. People like Nicky Hager after a hard day pawing through other people’s hacked correspondence, will no doubt decry this technology as being controversial and ‘ shocking ‘ because it is taking away people’s privacy. I say, if you are in a public place expect to be under surveillance for both your protection and the protection of others. The crime solving capacity of this technology is exciting.

Films like ?Minority Report? are no longer considered futuristic: video surveillance methods portrayed in this 2003 film are already in use. In fact, such methods have already helped in catching criminals and terrorists, albeit being controversial.

One of the most innovative technologies in this field was developed by Israeli company BriefCam, which helped in catching the Boston Marathon bombers. Using tracking algorithms, BriefCam enables users to track events caught on tape much more quickly, thus maximizing the potential of video surveillance.

A search engine for videos.

Read more »

Let’s cut short this pathetic media circus


Dear New Zealanders

New Zealand belongs to a group of countries that includes Canada, the UK, the USA and Australia, more recently referred to as “the club”. ?They operate communications surveillance bases.

In the course of their work, they have the potential to monitor all communications (more or less), and pick and choose what may be of interest depending on a set of criteria that are by and large the same but may change over time depending on emerging threats to national security. Read more »

Would you like the council to spy on you when you’re sunbathing?


We have no idea what to think about our privacy. ?On the one hand we put our photos on the Internet for many (if not everyone) to see, almost half the country gets uptight at the idea the government might spy on bad people who amount to a hundred or so, and now this: ? Read more »

Warrantless surveillance: Hook, line, sinker

The media and opposition appear to have fallen for the standard civil liberties play.

Here is how it goes.

Any reduction of civil liberties will be met by strong opposition. ?That’s a given. ? So, if you want to achieve something, make sure you actually make it sound worse.

After some time, “you’ve listened to the people of New Zealand”, and you withdraw the most contentious issue.

The civil liberty campaigners will see it as a victory, and… voila! ?What you really wanted through … is through.

A classic master class in this was the introduction of “ID card”?driving licenses. ? At the time, they pushed the idea it would become a “national identity card”, and “mandatory photo ID”.

Cue?the civil liberty campaigners… ? after “listening”, the government stepped away from pushing it as far as they originally proposed, and… voila! ? They achieved a photo-id database that was unprecedented at the time. ?Not even passports were that “digitised” at the time.

Incidentally, all these civil liberties people were Missing In Action when all my private data was being intercepted and passed around without a search warrant – but I digress…

With that strategy of deliberately overexciting the numpties with a fake bit of policy in mind, I’ve been observing the current outcry about the “Terror” Bill. ? The most contentious of it appears to be the 48 hours of surveillance without a search warrant. Read more »

Face of the day

Introducing the Minister in charge of PM surveillance

His royal Greenness, Russel ‘ How many times did you call Whaleoil ? ‘ Norman.

Russel Norman

Russel Norman


Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader – Green) to the Prime Minister: How many times since November 2008 has he spoken with blogger Cameron Slater on the phone and how many times, if any, has he texted him?

David Cunliffe – “New Zealanders should be entitled to a right of privacy”…except Cameron Slater

Has David Cunliffe realised the irony of him exclaiming that New Zealanders “should be entitled to a right of privacy”?

Everyone except me and the people I communicate with…all on the whim of a criminal hacker.

The media and the opposition parties gleefully climbed into it…and now the sanctimonious hypocrites are all crying about spying and privacy.

Well they are part of the problem and certainly not part of the solution.

Labour leader David Cunliffe said the Prime Minister may not be fit for office if he has misled New Zealanders about the extent of mass surveillance they had been subjected to from its spying agencies.

This morning in Mangere, Mr Cunliffe told reporters that if evidence emerged that Mr Key had mislead the public, it was “extremely serious”.

“I would be extremely upset if the pledges that have been made to New Zealand around our freedom from mass surveillance prove to be false. ? Read more »