SYDNEY – Former analyst at the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), Edward Snowden, has declared that there is mass surveillance in New Zealand through a system that it shares with other countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.
“If you live in New Zealand, you are being watched,” Snowden warned in a document posted Monday on the online publication, The Intercept, on the occasion of the “Moment of Truth” conference in Auckland in which Snowden participated.
Other participants included Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, who like Snowden, joined via video-conferencing; U.S. journalist Glenn Greenwald, and founder of now-defunct file sharing website MegaUpload, Kim Dotcom, who is wanted in the U.S. on piracy and copyright charges.
“At the NSA I routinely came across the communications of New Zealanders in my work with a mass surveillance tool we share with (New Zealand’s spy agency) GCSB, called “XKEYSCORE,” Snowden wrote in his post.
The tool allows the NSA to “see every website you visit, every text message you send, every call you make, every ticket you purchase, every donation you make, and every book you order online,” he added.
“Your words are intercepted, stored, and analyzed by algorithms long before they’re ever read by your intended recipient,” the former U.S. intelligence employee said.
In the video conference, Snowden said that “it is a violation of not only an individual’s citizen rights, but of human rights.”
XKEYSCORE is a program known as “Five Eyes,” a secret agreement between the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, according to Greenwald.
Assange said that it was not a pact between nations but between different intelligence agencies with a personal “agenda.”
Dismissing statements of New Zealand Prime Minister John Key that this program had never been implemented, Snowden said that the GCSB had, in fact, contributed to developing it.
Speaking at the event, Dotcom said “There are two ways to fight mass surveillance: politically and technologically,” urging the citizens of New Zealand to fight it in the country’s legislative elections on Sept. 20.
Dotcom, who is on conditional release in New Zealand and fighting extradition to the U.S., is the founder, though not candidate, of the Internet Party which is contesting the upcoming elections.
The New Zealand prime minister denied all accusations made in the video conference, according to the website of the New Zealand Herald daily.
“The accusations that have been leveled tonight are completely false as they are based on incomplete information. There is not, and never has been, mass surveillance of New Zealanders undertaken by the GCSB,” Key declared.