Andrea Vance on TV3's The Nation panel discussion - click to view video

Andrea Vance on TV3’s The Nation political panel – click to view video at TV3

Reporter of the Year Andrea Vance talked to Radio New Zealand’s Colin Peacock on Mediawatch about government surveillance of news media in an illuminating interview broadcast last Sunday. [Coincidentally, Vance was part of TV3’s The Nation political panel the day before.]

Listening to the Mediawatch interview, one can’t help but be struck by the loss of commonly-held innocence (‘Little old New Zealand’), and observe how the experience of being the target of improper/illegal surveillance has informed Andrea Vance’s view of the capacity and likelihood of government spying on New Zealanders … including journalists, their sources, whistle-blowers … with, it seems to me, ‘dissident’ elements (however you define those) being in the cross-hairs as well.

For the sake of reducing any ambiguity, let me repeat my own position on these matters …

It nauseates me to discover that far from protecting the fourth estate’s role and right to do its job at the seat of our democracy, Parliamentary Service, under pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office and his “enforcer” Wayne Eagleson, rolled over and surrendered surveillance data on a press gallery journalist to the David Henry witch-hunt set up on Mr Key’s orders.
It’s emerged that Parliamentary Service provided swipe-card records, which tracked Ms Vance’s movements — date, time, location — around the precincts of Parliament; and three months of her phone records(!)

It’s also worth hearing Andrea Vance’s thoughts about defensive measures journalists and others can/should/must take … without getting lost down the ‘super-paranoid’ rabbit hole. (But remember the saying: ‘You’re not paranoid if they really are out to get you.’)

Excerpt: Andrea Vance talks to Colin Peacock, Radio NZ Mediawatch 18 May 2014 MP3 file

Andrea Vance makes a very good point about government and spy agency use of semantics to dodge questions. That double-speak is as old as politics itself.

I recommend you inform yourself about the communication security options available to you. Encryption technology is getting easier to implement in the wake of the extra demand created by NSA whistle-blower Edward Snowden’s revelations about the extent of state mass surveillance, and, inadvertently, New Zealand’s role in it.

The full Mediawatch programme 18/5/14 is available as a podcast (which is how I almost invariably listen to it) here at the Radio NZ website. It’s definitely worth subscribing.

– P

PS For the record, you can find my own PGP public key at the bottom of the About page. I’m happy to correspond that way, or reply to a test message if you’re setting up encrypted email yourself.

The GCSB's Waihopai spy station. Is it hoovering up similar meta data on New Zealanders? Who do I ask?

Waihopai spy station, Marlborough. Part of the GCSB which despite legislation prohibiting it from spying on New Zealand citizens or permanent residents has been doing exactly that on behalf of the Police and the Security Intelligence Service.