One answer could be that it’s the GCSB that want the tapping here. That would give them primary access to the information beyond what gets shared through 5 Eyes systems.
Yes, I suppose it would give GCSB access to Australia/Hawaii traffic and that can only come from the cables. Presumably totally legal as part of GCSB's mission to spy on people overseas. Useful intel, but very expensive to obtain - presumably GCSB would have to pay the entire cost (we'd be spying on America and Australia amongst others and I doubt if NSA would support this ....)
Another answer is redundancy. Perhaps the NSA is confident of their continued ability to monitor the US ends of the cable. They have received a lot more heat over the Snowden leaks than the GCSB seems to have.
They've got some redundancy already (at least of traffic between AU and Hawaii). I reckon that the sweet spot for NSA is to get all NZ traffic, i.e. within NZ as well as international traffic. If they were after that it would have to be a tapped within NZ and by its nature include international stuff. If they are going to spend the money they might as well capture everything... If that were the case the only reason for tapping Southern Cross would be to get even more redundancy of the already obtained NZ-international traffic which they have in AU and Hawaii anyway.
So I'm still not convinced of why they need to bother tapping cables within NZ territory
What I find interesting is that the moment of truth:
- promised to reveal bulk surveillance of people in NZ . I took that to imply that bulk surveillance means everything, not just international traffic.
- only delivered documentary info relating to the tapping of overseas traffic, much of which was already in the public domain already.
I think it's hilarious how they forced JK's hand; on the morning of the event JK sits down with Hoskings, talks about how how everything is "overseen by the inspector general" and says "it's a sound and light show tonight" and "there's never been mass surveillance undertaken by GCSB on New Zealanders". He then proceeds to release declassified documents that plausibly deny mass surveillance (and seem to give proof that we came really bloody close to setting up the necessary infrastructure for bulk surveillance ?!? ) Makes you wonder who's the "looser"
JK is questioned today and "comfortably" says:
- (re NSA carrying out bulk surveillance within NZ) "well I don't believe they are, I'd be absolutely stunned if they were"
- "the Inspector General looks at the information that NZ agencies use and how it's sourced"
I think he's pretty much admitted that GCSB use information from XKEYSCORE, but is maintaining that the NZ information therein was legally obtained (i.e international traffic only)
It seems that any impropriety would need be related to NZ Authorities using information from XKEYSCORE that's related to communications within NZ (i.e. not just international). If this is shown then it would follow that NZ authorities are aware of bulk surveillance within NZ (and that this information is freely available to the other 5Eyes partners).
So let's cut to the chase - I'd like Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Cheryl Gwyn to request that GCSB show her XKEYSCORE and prove whether or not shows internal NZ communications. Perhaps she could start by asking them to demonstrate how much of her own email correspondence, web browsing history, phone records and text messages are held by the NSA and available to the spies in Australia, US, Canada and UK. Can't be that hard, after all, Snowden said he could look at Obama's stuff.
I can’t see where cable tapping comes into this, who raised it first?
There’s other evidence than Snowden’s claim for saying that X-Keyscore is shared with the GCSB.
I don’t think that the NSA would need to have people in NZ tapping undersea cables, because NZ’s cable connections only connect with Australia and Hawaii. source: www.submarinecablemap.com. The information that’s going through these cables would be available at the other ends (both also in 5Eyes). Australia and Hawaii connect to other parts of the world, so if, as Snowden said last night, NSA have staff and premises based in NZ, and if we assume they are involved with managing information that goes through these cables it would be overkill. (NSA operations in AU and Hawaii would also capture traffic with other countries, not just NZ.) I just don’t understand why they need to bother tapping cables within NZ territory.
<tin foil hat>
If NSA were intercepting traffic within NZ and sending it back to Utah or wherever for X-KEYSCORE that would be a different matter. Obviously it would be illegal for GCSB to be involved with this, but if NSA had some of their people stationed here to do the dirty work then job done. No cable tapping required if Southern Cross or whoever sell them a nice fast data connection.
</tin foil hat>
It’s all speculation, but so far Snowden has been reliable and he did talk about NSA people being based here in the context of X-KEYSCORE information on NZ originated traffic.
Based on my reading of the review report I think you are correct. You really have to question how thorough that review was.
- The Logs - How far back in time do the logs go? The reviewer used the logs to find out what information was accessed from the kiosks in October 2012, but presumably wasn't able to go back to logs dated October 2011.
- The Beneficiary Advocates Did the reviewers attempt to identify or make contact with the Beneficiary Advocate with Systems Administration knowledge who pointed out a problem to Kay Brereton in 2011?
1) The Logs:
Page 23 - "Events and the Ministry's responses"
10 October 2011:
Ms Brereton, a Beneficiary Advocate, raises an access to information issue with Work and Income.
08 October 2012:
Mr Bailey calls the Ministry, indicating that he knows of vulnerability in the Ministry’s systems.
14 October 2012:
Mr Ng alerts the media and Office of the Privacy Commissioner to a security vulnerability in the Ministry’s systems.
The latter two events are related, with Mr Bailey and Mr Ng collaborating to an extent. Our understanding of the event involving Ms Brereton is limited to an interview conducted with her and reviews of emails that were sent in relation to the event. No technical information to confirm technical details of the event is available.
Our understanding of the latter two events is based on interviews with Mr Bailey and Mr Ng, as well as reviews of network logs.
If logs were available for October 2012 but not for October 2011 then clearly there's a period of time where logs haven't been analysed. How long is this - 11 months?
2) Beneficiary Advocates
Kay Brereton raises an issue about information access but is unable to provide clear information about the nature of the problem. Another "Beneficiary Advocate" with systems administration knowledge is mentioned.
Ms Brereton was attending a session to familiarise Beneficiary Advocates with the new “kiosks” when another Beneficiary Advocate, a volunteer, who also worked as a systems administrator in another role, uncovered a way to gain access to computer names and internet protocol address information which Ms Brereton considered sensitive.(Page 23)
It would be interesting to find out what attempts the reviewers made to speak to the system admin who spotted the problem in 2011. If not why not - and why doesn't the report address this?