27 September, 2012
Inspector-General’s report released by PM
Prime Minister and Minister Responsible for the GCSB John Key today released the report of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security Hon Paul Neazor into the unlawful interception of communications of certain individuals involved in the Megaupload case.
“I welcome this report, which outlines the facts relating to this issue and the nature of the error,” says Mr Key.
“From reading the report and my discussions with the Director of the GCSB, it is apparent that there were two main aspects to the human error at the heart of this matter.
“First, the GCSB originally relied on the Police’s information about the residency status of the people in question. They did not check further.
“Second, this error was compounded after the operation was concluded by a simply wrong interpretation of the law.
“The Inspector-General noted there was potential for confusion between the relevant agencies about changes to the Immigration Act in 2009 and the subsequent effect on the GCSB legislation.
“At the time in question, Kim Dotcom was not a New Zealand citizen. He was, however, classed as the holder of a residence class visa, but it was not interpreted by the Police or GCSB at the time that he fell into the protected category of permanent resident.
“The GCSB relied on information provided to it by the Organised and Financial Crime Agency New Zealand. In my view, reliance on another party by GCSB is unacceptable.
“GCSB had a responsibility to fully understand what the change to the Immigration legislation in 2009 meant for its own operations, including whether individual visa holders were protected or not.
“It is the GCSB’s responsibility to act within the law, and it is hugely disappointing that in this case its actions fell outside the law. I am personally very disappointed that the agency failed to fully understand the workings of its own legislation.”
“I have received an apology from the Director of the GCSB and an assurance that he will take every step to rebuild public confidence in his organisation.”
As part of that process, Mr Key has sought an assurance that there are no other cases of people’s communications being intercepted unlawfully. The GCSB will be reviewing past cases back to 2009 when the Immigration Act was changed, and will report to the Prime Minister and the Inspector-General on this matter as soon as possible.
The GCSB will also:
- Establish new approval processes in the support of Police and other law enforcement agencies. This type of operation is halted meanwhile.
- Agree with Police and other law enforcement agencies how to confirm immigration status, before operations in support of law enforcement activity are undertaken within New Zealand.
The GCSB will submit these proposed changes to the Inspector-General in advance of their implementation.
“I have been assured by the Director that these changes will be implemented as quickly as possible,” says Mr Key.
“I would like to place on record my thanks to the Inspector-General for compiling this report in a prompt manner. I also believe it is important to place on the record that the unlawful activity occurred before the current Director took up his role.”