The effects of the US digital spying tactics leak are being felt worldwide. Whether in the US or Europe, everyone is watching their online activity a little bit more closely.
One of the people who's felt the effects of this spying: Kim Dotcom, founder of Megaupload, online cloud storage company. He spoke recently to New Zealand's prime minister, warning him to watch his step and resist the urge to join the US in “the dark ages of spying.”
He spoke at a parliamentary hearing, warning them against the newly proposed law before them which would increase surveillance capabilities. The cloud hosting entrepreneur felt passing this law would allow the United States and a host of other countries to more easily track New Zealanders. The bill would grant the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) the power to closely monitor the citizens of New Zealand.
“We should avoid blindly following the US into the dark ages of spying,” Dotcom said. “In the end, the GCSB is just a subsidiary of the (US) National Security Authority (NSA) and the US government calls the shots.”
Kim Dotcom Speaks From Experience
Last year, a New Zealand government enquiry found that the GCSB was wrong to hand over information on Dotcom, resident of New Zealand, to the US, resulting in a raid of Dotcom's home. This raid was eventually deemed illegal by the court.
You may recall Dotcom was arrested on charges of online piracy, racketeering, and money laundering by the US due to the nature of his cloud hosting site. He and his colleagues, also arrested, have been released on bail with restrictions on where they can and cannot go.
Kim Dotcom And The PM
The parliamentary hearing was Dotcom's first chance to speak directly to Prime Minister John Key since Dotcom was arrested. It wasn't the most comfortable of exchanges, either.
Dotcom accused the prime minister of knowing all about him before the raid even occurred. Key denied this.
Dotcom addressed the enquiry, telling them his personal experience demonstrates “abuse of spying powers is not limited to national security matters…The GCSB was involved in the raid on my home to support an alleged breach of copyright, it has nothing to do with terrorism or national security.”
As of now, the GCSB is allowed to spy on foreign subjects. The act of spying on citizens and residents of New Zealand is illegal. However, the government is hoping to change this, especially after the Dotcom incident, making it legal to monitor residents and citizens.
Dotcom spoke out against what is known as the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing network made up of the US, Australia, Canada, Britain, and New Zealand. He said it allows countries to skirt around laws that exist to protect citizens from being spied on.
“The NSA can spy on New Zealanders. New Zealanders can spy on Americans. The British can spy on Canadians and so forth, and they give each other access to data about their own citizens,” said Dotcom. “They are hacking the law.”
New Zealand: No Comment
New Zealand refuses to weigh in on the extent of the GCSB's cooperation with the NSA.
The FBI investigation has been hampered by the discovery the GCSB spied on Dotcom and as such, his extradition hearing is pushed back all the way to April of 2014. Dotcom is currently suing the government due to damages incurred during both surveillance and the raid.
Does the revelation the US and other nations are monitoring your online activity bother you? Have you changed what you do online because of it?