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Living in New Zealand? You Are Being Watched!

Sunday, December 28th, 2014

After revealing shocking details about NSA’s spying programs, Edward Snowden has now disclosed that the New Zealand government too is spying on citizens. The former NSA contractor has warned New Zealanders that the country’s intelligence agency, Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB), is involved in the interception and analysis of all private communications sent through phone, internet, radio or satellite. While the Prime Minister of New Zealand has flatly denied that GCSB conducted mass surveillance within the country, Snowden insists that New Zealanders are being spied upon and their personal data is also being shared with America.

According to Snowden, GCSB collects a vast amount of communication data by tapping into undersea cables that connect New Zealand with Australia and America. The agency launched Phase I of its surveillance program (nicknamed Speargun) in late 2012 (or early 2013) which allegedly involved installation of cable access equipment on Southern Cross cables (cables connecting New Zealand to the rest of the world). After the phase I was complete, the program moved to Phase II which purportedly involved insertion of metadata probes into those cables and harvesting data from them. The information gathered is then fed into X-Keyscore which is nothing but a huge collection of metadata that can be used by GCSB for analysis and identifying security threats. Snowden says that it is the X-Keyscore system that allows the New Zealand government to keep track of text messages, phone calls, websites that people visit and even shopping habits of its citizens.

Snowden further alleges that GCSB is hand in glove with the US intelligence agency NSA and the private data of millions of New Zealanders is available to the American agency at the click of a button. As per him, the GCSB base located in Waihopai is being used to share data with the US agency. He has further revealed that NSA has forged intelligence partnerships with many security agencies (including GCSB) and the extent of private data being shared is truly mind boggling. He also talked about the “Five Eyes” alliance which authorizes the security agencies of US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to share personal data of their own citizens with one another and spy on citizens from other countries. The “Five Eyes” agreement is done in such a way that the political leaders would remain protected even if there is a public backlash against the data sharing system.

If you are a New Zealander then you should definitely be worried about the revelations made by Edward Snowden. While the political establishment is denying the existence of mass surveillance program, it is an undeniable fact that the GCSB has the resources to monitor your phone calls, text messages and online activities. If you treasure your privacy and wish to keep your online activities protected from the eyes of the government then we recommend using a privacy solution like a Virtual Private Network. There is far too much at stake to leave your data and privacy unguarded so you must take preventive measures starting from today.

December 28, 2014

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