GCSB ‘had no idea’ spy gear was still targeting Kim Dotcom

By David Fisher

THE GCSB lost control of its surveillance technology and wasn’t aware its systems continued spying on Kim Dotcom, according to new documents from the spy bureau.

It claimed that it turned off all surveillance systems targeting Dotcom and others but
found out more than a year later that surveillance continued without its knowledge.

The details in the documents have led Dotcom to state that there is now evidence the United States’ National Security Agency was carrying out surveillance on him.

Dotcom, who should have been protected from GCSB surveillance as a New Zealand resident, said the GCSB did not know because its equipment was being used by the NSA, which was “directly involved”.

“New Zealanders must know how much power a foreign state holds over their private information,” he told the New Zealand Herald.

The admission from the Government Communications Security Bureau was made in High Court papers.

It aimed to explain why Dotcom and others charged in the FBI’s Megaupload investigation were spied on for two months longer than previously admitted.

The surveillance against Dotcom led to the revelation the GCSB didn’t understand its own law and had illegally spied on 88 people as a result.

If Dotcom were spied on by the NSA through GCSB systems, that number would likely be much higher because it was also following an inaccurate rendering of New Zealand law.

The GCSB has always said it stopped actively spying on Dotcom and his co-accused on January 20, 2012, but a recent High Court judgment revealed that the actual end of surveillance was March 22, 2012.

New High Court papers submitted by the Government in defence to a claim for damages over unlawful spying on Dotcom show the GCSB confirmed its active involvement ended on January 20, 2012, with the raid on Dotcom’s mansion.

That was the date of the “Operation Debut” police raid on Dotcom’s mansion in Coatesville, north of Auckland, which was to assist the FBI’s multi-country takedown of the internet entrepreneur’s Megaupload website.

The GCSB’s role was to support police by monitoring the communications of Dotcom and others, passing on intelligence about where the targets would be and if they knew they were about to be arrested.

The court papers stated the spy bureau said it “detasked some selectors” on January 20, 2012, after the Friday dawn raid on the mansion by elite anti-terror police.

“Selectors” is the term used among Five Eyes countries to describe the search terms put into its global spying apparatus. Documents have previously showed Dotcom and his co-accused had email addresses, phone numbers, addresses and websites submitted to the GCSB as “selectors”.

The GCSB also told the High Court the “majority of selectors” were removed on January 24, 2012, the Monday following the raid, and a further “small number of selectors” were removed on January 30, 2012.

“They say that all activity by GCSB staff relating to Operation Debut ceased by 30 January, 2012.”

But it added: “Limited interception of some communications continued beyond the detasking date without the knowledge of GCSB staff.”

The GCSB said it was unaware of continued access of Dotcom through its systems until legal action was filed over the unlawful spying…

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This article (GCSB ‘had no idea’ spy gear was still targeting Kim Dotcom) was originally published on New Zealand Herald and syndicated by The Event Chronicle

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