Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Interview: Glenn Greenwald

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  • Russell Brown,

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    We're definitely working on reporting about the money that changes hands between GCSB and NSA. I think the reporting will reveal that it goes both ways. The GCSB purchases rather expensive equipment and other capabilities from the NSA and the NSA also funds various activities here in New Zealand.

    I wonder how that fits with the Public Finance Act? At first glance, its illegal for the GCSB to spend NSA money unless its been appropriated for them by Parliament or authorised under another enactment...

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • chopstik,

    Great interview Russell, seriously refreshing to read your work.

    Helena Bay, Northland • Since Aug 2011 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • CJM,

    What did you make of the documents that John Key released yesterday to pre-empt your report? Was he deliberately confusing Cortex with Speargun?

    Yes. This is clearly the strategy of the Prime Minister at this point, which is to take what is always a complicated issue – electronic surveillance – and make it so difficult and so confusing to the public that they just throw up their hands and dismiss it all as bickering that they can’t resolve, and move on to other issues.

    And it’s really the media’s job to point out exactly what is being done and not being done. He made definitive commitments since the weekend that he would release documents, declassify material, showing that he looked at this proposal and then intervened and stopped it before it was implemented, in order to negate the claims that I was making. These documents do nothing of the kind.

    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/ninetonoon/20140916
    Katherine Ryan talking to Sir Ferguson yesterday morning very specifically only discussed ‘Cortex’ despite the fact that it was ‘Speargun’, the device capable of collating mass surveilled material, that was the real news coming from the Auckland Town Hall on monday night and the subsequent news carriers the following day.
    Now, she was either confused herself about the difference between ‘Cortex’ and ‘Speargun’ as was her producer and any researchers at RNZ which have access to all the papers, TV stations, blogs that were all broadcasting and discussing the ‘Cortex’ papers released by Key on monday which, if this was the case, doesn’t say much about the professional competence of the people putting together the 9 to Noon show
    Or…..
    She was deliberately obfuscating the subject to achieve the public’s ‘too confusing, I give up’ response so beloved of governments with dirty shit to deliver.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2014 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Tim Michie, in reply to CJM,

    I think the former. I think she herself would admit technology interviews aren't her strongest submit and was working with the documents the PM had released. As was his intention.

    Auckward • Since Nov 2006 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to Russell Brown,

    And speaking of asking the next questions: this letter to the Prime Minister from security specialist Daniel Ayers.

    Here's something slightly screwy. The email address quoted by Ayres in his letter to the PM is tactics dot net dot nz. At the moment that domain seems to be redirecting to an architectual company's Facebook page. Maybe Daniel could comment?

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1386 posts Report Reply

  • CJM, in reply to Tim Michie,

    But the ‘Speargun’ slides shown at the Town Hall had already been released on the monday afternoon, online at many sources? What, 90 seconds to print off and put in the file with the ‘Cortex’ docs?
    You may well be right though, just pure incompetence. Why would we expect any kind of coherence, technical ability or basic journalistic principles of research, preparation and presentation from a prominent New Zealand journalist on a prime spot of the state broadcasters schedule?
    Sigh…

    Auckland • Since Aug 2014 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    This just in:

    IGIS: No Indiscriminate Interception of NZers’ Data Found

    Wednesday, 17 September 2014, 9:22 am
    Press Release: Inspector General of Intelligence and Security
    The following is attributable to Cheryl Gwyn, Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security:

    “As part of my role as Inspector-General, I review whether the GCSB complies with the restrictions upon interception of New Zealanders’ communications and with the requirement to intercept communications only for authorised purposes. That review is ongoing.

    I am only able to comment on specific GCSB activities through my annual and inquiry reports. However, I can advise that I have not identified any indiscriminate interception of New Zealanders’ data in my work to date. I will continue to monitor these issues.”

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Note that the PM can limit IGIS's access to information

    http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1996/0047/latest/DLM392545.html?search=ta_act_I_ac%40ainf%40anif_an%40bn%40rn_200_a&p=1

    So if the GCSB or their Minister don't want the watchdog to bark, they can blind it.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • phplad,

    fantastic interview. well done. Andrea Vanve did something in the herald this morning which has been heavily attacked by a huge swath of aggressive comments. scary.

    New Zealand • Since Aug 2014 • 17 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Russell Brown,

    That was a gem Russell. who knows, one day New Zealand may even be able to offer Snowden asylum. WRT to context above and pending confirmation from anyone with more familiarity:

    The Inspector-General is chosen by the Prime Minister, after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition

    Thanks for this NRT and keep up the great work:

    Note that the PM can limit IGIS’s access to information

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Myles Thomas,

    Govt are specifically saying GCSB doesn't mass surveil. But what about NSA? Or another organisation using GCSB facilities? Words can be twisted so many ways, we could be paranoid, they could be lying.

    The solution is either we trust them blindly or they open up about everything. But secret services like to stay secret for fear of the bogeymen learning too much (questionable scaremongering). Meanwhile, we the public cannot avoid doubting everything they say because it all hinges on a PM with previous form for dishonesty.

    The GCSB would be better off without a dodgy PM making them look dishonest.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2011 • 130 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to mark taslov,

    The Inspector-General is chosen by the Prime Minister, after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition

    The wikipedia page isn’t quite accurate, I don’t think. S5 of the Act says it’s on recommendation “of the Prime Minister following consultation with the Intelligence and Security Committee”, which includes the PM, the Leader of the Opposition, and three others nominated by those two (two from the PM, one from the LotO).

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1139 posts Report Reply

  • James Littlewood*,

    Great interview thanks Russell.

    Hey, you know that thing Snowden said about how easy it is for NSA analysts to basically see anything they want, and he rattled off a list of like email, Facebook, etc. All things which we go through some kind of charade of security protocols, etc.

    Well, what about banking data? Can they see that, too?

    Is there, in fact, anything at all which is beyond the eyes of others?

    Auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 410 posts Report Reply

  • Jake Starrow,

    A revealing interview. Well done. You da man mr boss man

    Since Sep 2014 • 77 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston, in reply to Myles Thomas,

    Govt are specifically saying GCSB doesn't mass surveil. But what about NSA? Or another organisation using GCSB facilities? Words can be twisted so many ways, we could be paranoid, they could be lying.

    Indeed and the meaning of the phrase Mass Surveillance can be stretched in different ways.
    "We don't do mass surveillance ... only meta data which is very technical and you wouldn't understand. "
    "We don't do mass surveillance of all NZers ...only 90% of them"

    "I can advise that I have not identified any indiscriminate interception of New Zealanders’ data in my work to date" -.... means nothing really , she could be just incompetent , has limited access or has a nuanced view on the word indiscriminate or simply hasn't got across it all yet.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 509 posts Report Reply

  • Josh Petyt, in reply to James Littlewood*,

    I'm not a security expert but I believe if you use 128 bit encryption (HTTPS) and the signed certificate has not been compromised* then your communications are relatively secure. 128 bit encryption can be brute force attacked but no one has the resources to do that on a mass scale i.e. you would have to be targeted and if they do that then forget about having any privacy (ever again).

    *As I understand it signed certificates can be compromised and that is a major issue. If the NSA turns up and demands access to the signing authority's servers or somehow spoofs the DNS then you're in trouble.

    As I said, I'm no expert so if anyone wants to chime in?

    Japan • Since Apr 2014 • 44 posts Report Reply

  • Josh Petyt,

    The other worrying thing is that Snowden(?) has shown that they are stockpiling insecurities to use as backdoors. What that means is that instead of reporting insecurities to the developers of telecoms software and equipment they keep mum in case they want to use it. This of course endangers everyone's security.

    Japan • Since Apr 2014 • 44 posts Report Reply

  • Not The Messiah,

    I have not heard the probable fact that Sir Bruce F will have signed a confidentiality agreement, Surely he must have - it fairly common these days in business.
    I also feel that most radio and TV Media keep harping on about evidence. There won't be any. NSA ( or any spy agency ) will hide, obfuscate, deliberately set up red herrings, blind alleys whatever. They are good at hiding their tracks. They have to be.
    And one last point - What have Julian Assange, Mr. Snowden and to lesser extent Mr. Greenwald and Mr. Amsterdam got to gain from their exposures.Unless a bullet can be interpreted as a gain. In the case of the first 2 particularly they are dead men walking wondering not if but when.
    Thanks for your insight Russell

    Auckland • Since Sep 2014 • 38 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz, in reply to Not The Messiah,

    They are good at hiding their tracks. They have to be.

    As was pointed out Monday night, there is a reason why these operations are termed covert.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • politikiwi, in reply to Josh Petyt,

    The *content* of the communication is encrypted, but the source and destination are not. So the metadata of what servers you've been talking to is still available, just not the content of the conversation itself.

    On the subject of HTTPS, I notice the sign-up page for PublicAddress is not secured, so the GCSB know all about who we all are.

    Wellington • Since Sep 2014 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to James Littlewood*,

    meat data...

    Is there, in fact, anything at all which is beyond the eyes of others?

    Not if those others are humans,
    and are involved in the process
    of moving, storing or accessing data.
    Curiosity, Corruptability and Chance
    can all play a part...

    (NB not to besmirch all data techs, but it only takes one, and there is always one...)

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7887 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Green, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Sir Bruce Ferguson was fairly clear on Radio NZ that something is only legally "interception" if it's targeted. Therefore "indiscriminate interception" is technically an oxymoron in GCSB doublespeak.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2011 • 21 posts Report Reply

  • Not The Messiah, in reply to Dismal Soyanz,

    Indeed but I worry about who is listening. Nobody much is taking this blindingly obvious fact into account and most of the media will not consider this in their analysis they put their efforts into complicating things ( the latest crap in the Herald a case in point ) to put the ( undecided ) voters off.. Agendas seem more and more apparent with possible exception on TV anyway of John Campbell.

    Auckland • Since Sep 2014 • 38 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant, in reply to Peter Green,

    Sir Bruce Ferguson was fairly clear on Radio NZ that something is only legally "interception" if it's targeted. Therefore "indiscriminate interception" is technically an oxymoron in GCSB doublespeak.

    He needs to read the law.

    Legally its "intercepted" if it is acquired or recorded, or if its "substance, meaning, or sense" is. So, if the GCSB puts it into a database but doesn't look at it, that's interception, as is looking at a summary prepared by a foreign partner. And both are absolutely illegal if done to the communications of a New Zealander for intelligence purposes.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

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