Media Link: Snowden, Spying and New Zealand.

In a New Zealand Herald op ed I discuss Edward Snowden’s actions and their implications for New Zealand. It is possible that he may not be what he claims to be, but whether he is or not, there will be inevitable consequences for New Zealand stemming from his leaks.

13 thoughts on “Media Link: Snowden, Spying and New Zealand.

  1. Given the extent that the NSA and its “five eyes” partners apparently operate as a single intelligence collective, that operates under the jurisdiction of convenience, it is quite easy to understand revelations about “five eyes” to be revelations about the NSA and how it operates.

    So, I don’t think you need a “foreign spy” angle to explain why revelations about the illegal activities of the NSA has and will have blowback for the allies of the US.

  2. RJL:

    The point I tried to make is that Snowden no longer is leaking about mass domestic surveillance but has moved into traditional inter-state espionage using modern technologies. That goes beyond what he originally said was his motivation. Because his focus is so one-sided it gives the impression that another agenda is at play.

    Whether or not he is a spy (and I make no definitive claims that he is), the damage he is doing to the foreign relations of a select group of Western nations, of which NZ is part, is huge. That has nothing to do with illegal mass domestic surveillance and rights to privacy in NZ or other liberal democracies and all to do with contentious international relations.

    BTW–the 5 Eyes is not reducible to the NSA. There is a large degree of overlap but also some degree of national autonomy in how member states conduct their respective signals intelligence collection.

  3. I wonder what our govt will say when China and Russias spying techniques here get revealed. Those cyber attacks in the US traced back to china surprised me only due to the lack of furore in the US about it. Considering how on edge people here are about our own govt possibly spying on us i wonder what the politics will be here when another country gets caught doing it here that isnt a traditional ally.
    Im unsure if Snowden is a spy. He wouldnt want to leak on Russias allies considering hes in their care and maybe he didnt know what other countries such as indonesia were up too, or maybe they werent up to anything

  4. But Michael, why would anyone be surprised about foreign countries, especially Russia and China, spying on NZ? Especially given the reputation China has, rightly or wrongly, acquired for all kinds of cyber shenanigans? There’s a fundamental qualitative difference between countries spying on other countries – that’s been going on for millenia – and the possibility the GCSB might have been illegally spying on NZers or having its 5 Eyes partners spy on NZers on its behalf. After all, we were raised on the myth that NZ was free and democratic and we could go about our lives without fear of the government unreasonably snooping on our private lives, not like Russia or China or East Germany, and now it turns out that maybe that’s not so true. And besides, there’s been plenty of talk about China’s spying techniques for ages now. It’s a pity NZ is so poorly served by its mainstream media.

    Pablo, I found Snowden’s taking refuge in Hong Kong and Russia to be highly problematic right from the start. Why, if he’s so interested in the rights of his fellow citizens, would he put himself in the jurisdictions first of the PRC* and then Putin? Neither of them have a particularly stellar record for respecting the privacy or rights of their citizens. Surely Germany would’ve been a more logical choice for a man of such principal, given what has been revealed about NSA tapping of Merkel’s phone and that Merkel was born and raised in the GDR and therefore has a fair bit of experience of living in a state of mass surveillance?

    I agree that John Key should be very worried about what may be revealed about the GCSB’s activities. Just look at the rather uncomfortable position Tony Abbott has found himself in with respect to Indonesia – sure, partly his own fault given his ham-fisted handling of the asylum seeker boats, but still, Indonesia now has even more to hold against Australia. Fonterra and a few smaller dairy exporters/infant formula manufacturers have done their level best to destroy NZ exports of infant formula to China with their food safety scares and repeatedly failing AQSIQ’s inspections, I wonder what the GCSB may contribute on that front… Sorry, idle early morning speculation. But I doubt this issue is going to fade away any time soon.

    *Yes, Hong Kong has a “high degree of autonomy”, functioning effectively as an independent country on day to day matters, but Beijing is responsible for its foreign affairs and defence, and Beijing is good at finding ways to make things happen.

  5. Surely Germany would’ve been a more logical choice…

    Except that Germany has ruled out offering him aslyum.

    Also, the American intelligence community gets away with mounting extraordinary renditions within “allied” countries. When he made his initial leaks from Hong Kong, he was much safer from any attempt to grab him by the CIA or similar; because there was a much greater risk of Hong Kong responding aggressively to such an attempt (rather than, merely wringing its legal hands, like Italy has (for example)).

    I could certainly buy the idea that there are some conditions/suggestions around what he can and cannot leak associated with his grant of temporary asylum by Russia. But that is not evidence of a pre-existing conspiracy between Snowden and Russia. It is just Russia taking advantage of circumstances.

  6. Christian:

    My opinion is no more than what the average Joe would have.

    I think that Mandela was an exemplar of stoicism in the face of adversity who was a better activist, symbol of resistance and source of inspiration than president, that his personal life was less than stellar, that his legacy and image have been used and abused by many who are unworthy of licking his shoes, and that his call for reconciliation, while lovely in principle, allowed dozens of murderous Afrikaner as well as ANC thugs to boast about their exploits during the Truth and Reconciliation hearings that brought no justice.

    Amid the many insufferable scribblings on occasion of his death, John Minto has, in my estimation, written the best local summation of his legacy.

  7. Pablo you are selling yourself shoret. I hope you have not been listening to the jealous haters. You are an expert on security issues and democracy. So I thank you for your wise words. I will take them under great consideration.

  8. Christian:

    peterquixote is a pen name of Paul Scott, a Kiwi living in Thailand who is a ardent critic of mine. I mentioned him because I am uncomfortable with compliments, although I do appreciate your kind words.

  9. As I said Christian, I appreciate your kind words. I just have never been good at receiving compliments, hence my resort to self-deprecation.

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