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Inquiry into GCSB spying claims confirmed

26 Mar 2015

The office of the Inspector General of Intelligence and Security has today announced there will be an inquiry into allegations of GCSB interception of communications in the South Pacific.

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Cheryl Gwyn, will commence an inquiry into complaints over alleged interception of communications of New Zealanders working or travelling in the South Pacific by the Government Security Communications Bureau (GCSB).

The complaints follow recent public allegations about GCSB activities. The complaints, and these public allegations, raise wider questions regarding the collection, retention and sharing of communications data.

“I will be addressing the specific complaints that I have received, in accordance with the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Act 1996,” Gwyn says.  “But there is also a clear need to provide as much factual information to the complainants, and to the wider public, as is possible.”

Gwyn says, “For that reason, I have decided not only to investigate the complaints but also to bring forward and expand the relevant parts of my ongoing programme of review and audit of GCSB procedures and compliance systems.

“That review programme operates at a systemic level and doesn’t, of course, scrutinise or second-guess every day-to-day aspect of the GCSB’s operations: what it does allow for, as in this instance, is a focused review of a particular area of GCSB or New Zealand Security Intelligence Service practice,” she says.

“I have today notified the Acting Director of the GCSB of my inquiry and of my intention in this inquiry to provide as much information to the public on my findings as I can,” she says, “withholding only that information that cannot be disclosed without endangering national security.

“The Director has assured me of the Bureau’s full co-operation.”

The Inspector-General’s office is also currently conducting a range of other inquiries, both into complaints by members of the public and into wider issues identified under the own motion power.

The Inspector-General’s office will advise of the likely timing of release of the inquiry report once that is known, but the office says the Inspector-General does not expect to make any other public statements on this inquiry until the inquiry is concluded.

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