Greenwald's unanswered questions

04:27, Sep 17 2014
THE WORDS: American journalist Glenn Greenwald, who first published the documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, testifies in front of the Brazilian Federal Senate's Parliamentary Inquiry Committee.
SPIES AND LIES: American journalist Glenn Greenwald claims the Government has misled the New Zealand public over the extent of GCSB surveillance activities.

This week Glenn Greenwald's The Intercept news site published a list of unanswered questions stemming from their investigations on the Snowden documents about international spy networks. We put them to Prime Minister John Key.

The questions:

* Why did you inform the public that the GCSB Amendment Bill would not lead to an expansion of powers when at the same time you were planning the Speargun mass surveillance initiative?

*Why was phase one of the Speargun project completed if it was, as Prime Minister Key has claimed, something that never made it past the "business case"?

* Why were New Zealanders not informed about the Cortex project until the government's hand was forced by disclosures based on documents from Snowden?

* How much data is collected on a daily basis by GCSB under the Cortex project, and how does the agency ensure this data does not "incidentally" include the content or metadata of citizens' communications?The Cortex documents refer to the use of technology that "has been in use for some time." What technology is this?

* Is any information collected by GCSB under Cortex - or any other program that accesses internet data - shared with the NSA and/or other Five Eyes agencies through systems such as XKEYSCORE?

* Does GCSB have access to XKEYSCORE and, if so, for how long has this been the case?

* Does GCSB use its access to internet data streams - under initiatives like Cortex or similar - to launch active/offensive cyber operations that involve hacking computer systems to collect information?

* When will you declassify documents detailing the Speargun project and showing that it was not completed

Key chose not to answer the questions, instead providing a statement through a spokeswoman.

She said: "The Prime Minister stands by all his previous comments on this issue and has traversed a lot of these issues already in the media stand-ups and interviews he has done over the past few days. He is focused in the final days of the election campaign on the issues that are important to New Zealand's future like the economy, law and order, health, education and the environment.

"The Prime Minister has also made it clear there is no mass surveillance of New Zealanders by the GCSB, everything is done in accordance with the law and we don't use our partners to circumvent the law. The GCSB's activities are also subject to review by the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security. She has put out a statement today that states she has not identified any indiscriminate interception of New Zealanders' data in her work to date and will continue to monitor these issues."