Add New Zealand to the list of governments snooping on you. State surveillance has become a central issue in New Zealand's national elections, following today's revelation by the A-Team of whistleblowers who gave details surrounding the creation of a Kiwi mass surveillance operation code-named "Speargun." Revelation of the secret program could lance prime minister John Key's reelection bid next week.
Key initially denied the surveillance program existed, but recently admitted that it was covertly implemented following a series of cyber attacks in 2012. Key said he ended the program in March 2013.
See the full recording of the live-streamed event.
Today's media event, dubbed "Moment of Truth," featured journalist Glenn Greenwald, Julian Assange (via videoconference), Internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom, and Dotcom's attorney, Bob Amsterdam. NSA leaker Edward Snowden also joined the panel via videoconference from an undisclosed location, presumably in Russia.
Assange, the Wikileaks founder who has been holded up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 to elude extradition to Sweden to face allegations of sexual assault, was also on videoconference. The panel was organized by New Zealand's Internet Party.
Dotcom, who was born Kim Schmitz and changed his name as an homage to the turn-of-the-century tech bubble that made him rich, had been the victim of government surveillance in New Zealand. His case revealed the scope of that government's surveillance actions against its citizens — something that came as no surprise to Snowden, who said he saw metadata on ordinary New Zealand citizens while working in Hawaii for intelligence contractor Booz Allen. "If you live in New Zealand, you are being watched," he wrote recently.
The documents released at today's Moment of Truth reveal internal government communications from an administration that wholeheartedly embraced the expanded surveillance program. Snowden said the NSA had access to New Zealand's program, which, working with other national intelligence agencies, created a network of sensors around the world to tap into communications through fiber optic cable. From his desk at the NSA, Snowden said he could interrogate these sensors for any data he wants. During his tenure, he said he could "see everything" communicated in New Zealand.