FLASHBACK INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT:
ENDARKEN: Hi Chris, thanks for talking to Occupy New Zealand today. We had a great time at the candidate selection for The Internet Party.
CHRIS YONG: Wasn’t it something else?
ENDARKEN: It was amazing! We thought your speech was really standout because of your references to Snowden, and also to the GCSB movement last year and the way that it inspired you. I’m really interested to know what you think about the Telecom New Zealand and Vodafone statements that came out today, where they mentioned that hundreds of devices can be surveilled by the state due to any one warrant. What impact do you think that has for New Zealanders?
CHRIS YONG: OK, well first of all, we’re talking about warranted searches, but we’re also talking about the fact that it can go two hops wide. In my opinion, that’s just too far. It’s one thing that if there is a legal reason to find out information, and there’s a warrant for it, OK, that can be acceptable and understood. But when you’re going two hops wide, you are going to catch a whole heap of innocent people in this grand spy information gathering network and possibly innocent people can be dragged… well.. they could be connected to something which they don’t even know. Data is all about how you interpret it. When there’s too much data and someone is trying to fit an agenda to that data, it’s just bad news. So, two hops – far too wide, far too much.
ENDARKEN: So what can we do to take back possession of our data in New Zealand? How do we get away from being pigeon-holed into the databases of corporations?
CHRIS YONG: Look, I think… one of the revelations that has come out recently is just, for starters, getting secure in every single device that you use. Find out, all the sites, all the apps, what you can do to protect yourself from that easy level of spying. I mean, obviously there’s the next level again, where they’re suggesting people can go in through the backdoors of these IT companies, and that’s a whole other issue that needs to be looked at. But in the short term, when it comes to the basic things you can do, just use secure connections.
(Cameraman: do we need an explanation on what the two hops is exactly?)
ENDARKEN: Sure! Do you want to tell us about the two hops – I know that it was Keith Alexander of the NSA who first let it be known that was two hops – we assume by default that the GCSB also implements two hops being that we are a member of the “Five Eyes” Echelon network. [CORRECTION: It has been suggested that this was actually first revealed by James Clapper, DNI]
CHRIS YONG: Well, OK, if you think about it, two hops is essentially… another way to think about it is two degrees of separation. Two degrees of separation will cover every single New Zealander in this country. What that effectively means is that if intelligence has targeted one person that they want to look at, they’re going to be able to gather data on every single person, they’re going to be implemented in this particular warrant. That is unnecessary. That is just… it’s, once again, they’re looking for a needle in a haystack and everyone is going to be considered a suspect. You could be completely innocent, I mean hell… two hops, you could hardly now someone, but you’ll be that connection.
ENDARKEN: We know that 88 New Zealanders AT LEAST were illegally spied on by the GCSB, but they won’t confirm who they are. Would you like to see that list of names released, would you like those people to know what happened to them?
CHRIS YONG: Absolutely! I mean look, the fact of the matter was, is that, under the law then, that was illegal OK. And I don’t agree with the change that happened in August of 2013. But the fact of the matter is, they got targeted, they were caught up in something that noone had a right to do. So at the very least, I absolutely think that they should be told about it and then, if we can do it, get a formal apology but at the very least they need to know that they were the target of this mass surveillance that was illegally performed.
ENDARKEN: And it would certainly bring a lot of people a sense of closure to know, exactly what did happen. Thanks so much for talking to us Chris, that’s awesome, we appreciate your time.
CHRIS YONG: You’re welcome.
SOURCE VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRgSqghnK9o
FOOTAGE COURTESY OF @OCCUPYNZ, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED