GCSB welcomes report about its activity in relation to the Pacific

The Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) welcomes the findings of a report about its intelligence activity in relation to New Zealand’s interests in the South Pacific region.

The report of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, published today, found the GCSB did not deliberately target the communications of any of the complainants. The report does not make any recommendations.

“I am pleased the Inspector-General found that the GCSB operated within the statutory authorisations for it to lawfully collect signals intelligence in relation to New Zealand’s interests in the South Pacific,” said Andrew Hampton, Director-General of GCSB.

“I note that in the two instances where compliance issues arose, the Inspector-General found that they were both inadvertent. In each instance the issue was identified by GCSB staff, self-reported and corrected.

“In the report the Inspector-General states that although there is a possibility the GCSB collected communications of the complainants in the course of lawful activities, there is no evidence this occurred.”

The Inspector-General also concluded that it was unlikely the GCSB shared the complainants’ communications with its international partner agencies.

“This report helps to further emphasise that the GCSB is committed to acting lawfully and that the GCSB does not use its relationships with international partners to circumvent New Zealand law,” said Mr Hampton.

“As a signals intelligence agency the GCSB produces intelligence by collecting and analysing communications assessed as having an intelligence value in accordance with the priorities set by the Government.

“Our region’s security has been an enduring topic of intelligence interest for successive governments.

“The nature of modern telecommunications means the GCSB may need to collect a broader set of communications in order to find and isolate the communications of greatest intelligence interest.

“Sir Michael Cullen and Dame Patsy Reddy looked at GCSB’s collection activities in their 2015 review. Their report noted the limits on the GCSB’s capacity, as well as the controls on what information can be examined by analysts. The reviewers were satisfied GCSB’s activities did not amount to ‘mass surveillance’.”

The GCSB has policies and procedures to ensure that it acts lawfully when it collects, retains, and shares communications.


Media contact: 04 819 7104 or media@nzic.govt.nz