Documents released by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden purport to show U.S. and New Zealand officials have collected Internet data via underwater cables that connect New Zealand, Australia and North America.
The documents, reported by The Intercept and the Sydney Morning Herald, are said to show the program, called “Speargun,” had initially been implemented in 2012 or early 2013 by the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) of New Zealand.
The GCSB was alleged to have gained covert access to a Trans-Pacific undersea cable network through which data is transmitted between Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Hawaii, to allow the NSA to harvest data.
Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key denies that the GCSB has participated in mass surveillance of citizens, though he reportedly would not discuss the existence of the program New Zealand reportedly used to conduct surveillance.
Snowden said in an interview with The Intercept website, which first reported the program’s existence, that the Prime Minister was fully aware of the program. “The Prime Minister’s claim to the public, that ‘there is no and there never has been any mass surveillance’, is false,” Snowden said. “The GCSB, whose operations he is responsible for, is directly involved in the untargeted, bulk interception and algorithmic analysis of private communications sent via internet, satellite, radio, and phone networks.”