New Zealand should 'think again' on Five Eyes spy network - Nicky Hager

  • 21/04/2017

As police investigate a new Islamic State attack in Paris, security officials from the US, Canada, Australia, the UK and Wellington are believed to be meeting in Queenstown for a Five Eyes summit.

The secretive alliance allows New Zealand to share and access information and intelligence.

But as whistleblowers like Edward Snowden have shown, Five Eyes, helped by our own GCSB, have spied not just on security targets but on our friends and trading partners.

Author and investigative journalist Nicky Hager appeared on Three's The Project, and asked what we get from the alliance.

"If we don't think that we're exactly likeminded and the same as the United States on their foreign policy and military policy, that's when we have to think again," he says.

Mr Hager says that governments use the fear of terrorism to extend their surveillance powers.

"It's kind of like: 'come on children, be scared of terrorism, and don't question what's going on'," he says.

"Our GCSB - who will say that they study terrorism - have hardly got any staff allocated to terrorism. They've got people spying on the Pacific Islands, in India, and Japan, and Antarctica and all these different part of the world."

This year our government made it legal for the GCSB to spy on Kiwis, raising fears about privacy.

"There is mounting public concern with surveillance and this is involved with mass surveillance of New Zealanders," activist John Minto says.

But despite ethical dilemmas there is a benefit for New Zealand, according to former intelligence officer Dr Rhys Ball.

"I would rather be in Five Eyes than not, I think it's value outweighs some of the ethical challenges or queries," he says.

"It is forever trying to balance those and provide information and resources that benefit the individual independent states that are part of the Five Eyes community."