Privacy Commissioner – Update:

by Patrick O'Brien

Image: The GCSB has been illegally spying on New Zealand citizens

The Government Communications Security Bureau has been illegally spying on citizens, so I wrote to the Prime Minister in April this year and asked him — has the GCSB been spying on me?

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key is a slippery individual and would not answer the question — so I complained to the Privacy Commissioner. It turns out there are many hundreds of other New Zealanders asking the same question, and John Key is not answering them either:

Here’s an update from the Privacy Commissioner . . .


30 July 2013

Patrick O’Brien

Dear Mr O’Brien

Privacy Act Complaint — Patrick O’Brien and
Government Communications Security Bureau

We have received a significant number of complaints regarding access request responses made by the Government Communications Security Bureau in recent times. I am aware that you may be impatient to acquire an outcome to your complaint. Upon receiving a complaint about an access review our responsibility is to review the reasons that an agency gives for withholding information and either agree or disagree with the agency in its use of the withholding grounds. The intelligence community provides a significant challenge in terms of the way information is managed and held. Scrutiny of the reasons an intelligence agency withholds information and viewing of the information can only be handled by individuals with the appropriate levels of clearances. Our Office has an overall small resource and that resource is even smaller in terms of those who have sufficient security clearances to manage these complaints.

Our practice is to meet with the agency, understand their policies and reasons for making decisions under the Privacy Act and if appropriate review information withheld. These activities take a significant amount of time. Added to our current burden is the significant number of complaints that we have received.

Please rest assured that we are actively investigating your complaint and for all the reasons I have mentioned earlier in this letter the resolution of your complaint will take time. As soon as I have some issue to report to you, you will receive a telephone call or correspondence from me.

In the meantime I thank you in advance for your patience.

Yours sincerely

Mike Flahive
Assistant Commissioner, Investigations

Original letter in PDF format



Correspondence with the Commissioner is here . . .

Privacy Commissioner