Key dances on the head of a pin: mass surveillance versus mass collection

John Key is not ruling out the GCSB being involved in the mass collection of data but insists it does not do mass surveillance.

Mr Key was asked, in that case, to explain the difference.

“They don’t undertake mass surveillance of New Zealanders. There is no, sort of, new terms here. I don’t even know what you mean by mass collection. I’ve no clue – it’s not a term I’ve ever seen, it’s not a term I’ve ever used.”

The NSA documents cited by Edward Snowden referred to the GCSB undertaking what was described as full-take collection from 2009.

Mr Key was asked whether that could mean mass collection.

“Look, I think you’re just winding yourself into knots, which are a complete waste of time.

They’re circular arguments. Go back to the simple question – do we have a warrant and is that warrant legal?”

Mr Little said Mr Key was using semantics to avoid answering straightforward questions about the actions of the spy agency.

“The Prime Minister’s being pretty tricky about the difference between data collection and then private and surveillance. I think he needs to be clear with New Zealanders about what that difference is. He says that you can go to any lawyer and get a different opinion. He’s got the country’s top lawyer, the Attorney-General.”

I’ll put it plainly.

Fishing for data is the same as fishing for a species of fish: ?you’ll have a by-catch.

Whatever is being captured will have stuff they’re not interested in.

There is no practical way to surveil without also capturing information that is of no interest, or even falls outside of the warrant.

To simply grab the data that is covered by the warrant, you first have to look at?any data to see if it is covered by the warrant before you can decide to not keep it.

It’s a stupid argument. ?The voters clearly don’t care. ?There is no win in it for the opposition, because they won’t get Key to resign.

And the last thing anyone wants is to give Dotcom, Greenwald and Snowden a win.

It’s a dead duck.

But Angry Andy still thinks he can capture the hearts and minds of New Zealanders and paint John Key in charge of am out-of-control surveillance state. ?The same state with the same tools as Helen Clark oversaw.