Snowden, Eminem, and New Zealand’s Election


402px-Edward-Snowden-FOPF-2014In his relentless drive for relevancy, NSA-leaker Edward Snowden has injected himself into New Zealand’s politics on the eve of its general election. Appearing on Monday via video link at an event hosted by fellow fugitive Kim Dotcom — who is wanted by U.S. prosecutors on piracy charges — Snowden alleged that Prime Minister John Key and senior government officials lied to the public about the activities of New Zealand’s spy agency, the Government Communications and Security Bureau (GCSB).

Snowden — who was joined by the reporter-activist Glenn Greenwald and Julian Assange of WikiLeaks fame — claimed that the GCSB was planning to implement a system of mass surveillance of its citizens with the help of the NSA. According to Snowden, the GCSB “is directly involved in the untargeted, bulk interception and algorithmic analysis of private communications sent via internet, sattelite, radio and phone networks”.

How does Snowden claim to know this? As an NSA analyst, he had access to a mass communication tool known as “XKEYSCORE” that the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand use to share data. The government has been quick to repudiate the veracity of the allegations regarding this specific program. After Snowden attempted to substantiate his claims with stolen NSA files, Key declassified relevant documents.

This whole affair is unlikely to be entirely cleared up before Saturday, when Kiwis head to the polls. But will if have any effect on the result?

The New Zealand Left,  particularly the liberal Labour Party, hoped that the public doubt created by the Snowden fiasco would spell trouble for Key’s center-right National Party, which looked very strong in polls going into this final week. But Snowden’s case has been undermined by the general unseriousness that the public attaches to his facilitator, Kim Dotcom; it will likely prove too little, too late to dent Key’s record, much less keep him from a third term in government.

But there’s more foreign meddling. In a bizarre twist, the rapper Eminem is suing the National Party for allegedly breaching copyright by using his song (“Lose Yourself”) in a campaign ad. Who knew NZ politics could get this interesting?

Image Credit: “Edward-Snowden-FOPF-2014” by Freedom of the Press Foundation – Freedom of the Press Foundation. Licensed under CC BY 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

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  1. Roberto Inactive

    I had heard a little bit about this and thought it all mildly interesting at the time, the idea of criminal hackers as it were attempting to influence elections intrigued me. The more I read of it the more bizarre it seems to get, CSM had what I thought was an interesting take:

    Julian Assange, Glenn Greenwald, and Edward Snowden all appeared at a political rally yesterday in New Zealand for a party founded by a German national wanted in the United States on racketeering, money laundering, and piracy charges…Aside from the strange spectacle of four foreigners being the stars of a New Zealand political rally, the support for Dotcom is revealing of the non-residents’ views. While they mostly talk and write in public about the evils of what they claim is pervasive government surveillance (Russia appears to get a pass), Dotcom made a vast fortune distributing the creative work of others without payment. It can only be assumed that they share Dotcom’s views.

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  2. Percival Thatcher

    I’m afraid that I can’t discuss any of these four “gentlemen” without violating the CoC.

    I hope the people of New Zealand have the good sense to see through this twaddle.

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  3. genferei Member

    I would be highly surprised if the GCSB wasn’t undertaking pervasive domestic surveillance. It would almost be harder not to, given what they have at their fingertips. Fortunately, the NZ security apparatus is about three people, and Kiwis have a healthy contempt for politicians of all stripes.

    Kim Dotcom is no saint. To say the least. But that he is an international fugitive pursued around the globe by armed FBI agents too blase to follow the law for the ‘crime’ of assisting in the breach of copyright says US foreign policy is extremely broken.

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  4. Albert Arthur Coolidge
    Albert Arthur

    Whoa, whoa, whoa; I resent your description of Edward Snowden as an American. The man is a traitor.

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  5. Tuck Inactive

    “– who is wanted by U.S. prosecutors on piracy charges —”

    The attempted “prosecution” of Kim DotCom was a far bigger crime than anything he was accused of doing.  Yes, I’ve been following it pretty closely, although not of late.

    Seizing a business prior to a determination of guilt is a fundamental violation of our due process rights.

    And Kim DotCom was never accused of “piracy”, he was accused of violating copyright.

    Copyright owners have run a very successful campaign to restrict our rights to freely copy works that should be in the public domain by paying corrupt Congressmen to continually extend what was supposed to be a short-term privilege.  Violating that is not “piracy”…

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  6. Michael S Inactive
    Michael S

    Albert Arthur:Whoa, whoa, whoa; I resent your description of Edward Snowden as an American. The man is a traitor.

    Point granted. Besides, an American meddling in another’s affairs is simply anachronistic, whereas, say, a Russian doing the same – not so much.

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  7. Copperfield Inactive
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  8. Copperfield Inactive

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